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Our Instructors

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Jill Brugler has recently returned to the Verde Valley from a long hiatus in Nevada.  She first became familiar with Northern Arizona as a college student at NAU, where she earned her BFA in ceramics while working with one of her strongest influences, Don Bendel.  She completed her Master of Fine Arts and began teaching, making and selling ceramic art soon after.

 

“Anything I’ve ever visualized came true with clay.”  Don Bendel encouraged Jill and taught her the importance of an instructor supporting their students and not taking your work too seriously.

 

Working on the Navajo reservation, she learned the importance of community in digging clay, learning and even becoming one of the many “auntie” teachers.  The ultimate simplicity of native ceramics awed her. Her process evolved there from handbuilding to using the potters wheels – she laughs, now, at once being intimidated by the wheel. “Nothing at all to be afraid of!”

 

Today she counts many influences – Bendel, the aunties, Maria Martinez, Joan Miro and Picasso, just to name a few.  She believes clay helped her develop relationships with people and hopes to help her students make their own unique works of art.

LeeAnn graduated with a degree in Studio Art from Adrian College in 2007. She taught ceramic and fiber arts classes for several summers at Blue Lake Fine Arts Camp before leaving Michigan and heading west. Life took her from the mountains of Aspen Colorado where she kept her interest in clay alive by attending classes at Colorado Mountain College, to the depths of the Grand Canyon where she lived and worked for 7 years at Phantom Ranch, located at the bottom of the natural wonder. She spent a large portion of her spare time throwing pots in her bedroom on a tabletop wheel which was packed in, like all supplies to the ranch, on a mules back. Her greenware pots were delicately packaged and loaded onto a mule for their 7.5 mile ride out of the Canyon. She hiked out behind, transported them to her home in Prescott, and spent her weekends glazing and firing the surviving pieces.

In 2018 she purchased a used Grand Canyon Shuttle Bus and turned it into her home studio, allowing her to leave the Canyon in 2019 and pursue pottery. She is currently focused on functional wheel thrown work that enhances daily life. She is looking forward to sharing her passion for the material and process with the Reitz Ranch Community.

Dexter Woods is a first generation ceramicist from Dallas, Texas.  He graduated from TTU in 2014, where he studied under Von Venhuizen, his mentor and a “technical master” and Juan Granados, who taught the importance of a exploring a personal narrative through art. During his studies, Woods became connected to the legacy and meaning of Don Reitz’s work via Von Venhuizen, who had a deep friendship with Mr. Reitz spanning many years.

 

Dexter’s teaching experience took a professional turn when he moved to Phoenix in 2015 and worked as an instructor at a private studio.  He then helped to open, manage and operate a brand new studio in downtown Phoenix while holding classes in wheel throwing.

 

In Dexter’s words; “Art is my outlet, to try to understand the world and myself. I love exploring form through clay and reaching for the limits of it’s memory.  The first time I touched clay, it did exactly what I wanted it to do and I realized the limitlessness of the medium.

“I want to bring this sense of possibility to my students and invite them to realize clay’s transformative properties.”

 

Dexter will be teaching and working with atmospheric firing at the Reitz Ranch wood and salt/soda kilns, as well as helping in developing various programs at the ranch.