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New MudFire Owner to Showcase Local Potters, Ceramics Artists

Decatur pottery studio undergoing a number of changes.

MudFire Clayworks & Gallery, the nationally renowned Decatur-based ceramic art center has a new owner.

Deanna Rantlett, owner of Atlanta Clay, purchased a controlling stake in MudFire.

Rantlett, an artist in her own right, said she plans to make several changes to MudFire, which opened up in 2002.

The center will remain in Decatur but she plans a few changes.

Key among them is a greater effort to showcase local ceramics artists.

"There’s not a lot of galleries that show ceramic work and the ones that do, show artists that are already popular," she told Decatur Patch. "Our idea was to have a locals-only section of the gallery so that they could have exposure, too."

She also wants to highlight how ceramics and pottery are fine arts and that those pieces should be looked at in that way.

Paintings and sculptures are pieces of fine art, but unlike those, ceramic pieces — be they bowls, plate or cups — can serve a function, too.

"Functional ceramics are especially intimate," she said. "For example - your lip touches the cup you use each day. Each viewer and maker perceives these interactions differently, making the variety of color, surface, and form nearly endless.

"I am really looking forward to active participation in MudFire’s gallery and Studio — it is a very exciting time for me personally."

She also wants to create an urban organic community garden using the front lawn of MudFire's Laredo Drive space.

"MudFire has a gorgeous front lawn that hasn't been used for anything," Rantlett said, explaining Decatur residents are big on locally sourced food and that that underscores the theme of highlighting local artists.

"It's the idea of having handmade goods and handmade food," the University of Georgia graduate said.

Other changes include the establishment of an on-site ceramics tools and supply boutique, a dedicated workshop space for more workshops and a greater presence online and on social media.

Rantlett and her staff also are putting together a program — likely to take place during the summertime — geared toward children, to get them involved in ceramics and pottery.

“Our main goal, with this purchase, is to strengthen and advance the clay community in Georgia and beyond," she said.

"MudFire has been instrumental in building that connection and providing an exciting and inspirational place for people wanting to work in clay. We seek to bring in new clay enthusiasts to the center and serve as an educational resource to the public."

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