Making the Grade: Bill Barry |

Making the Grade: Bill Barry

Summit Daily/Brad Odekirk Bill Barry, Colorado Mountain College

According to his bio in the Colorado Mountain College (CMC) catalogue, ceramics instructor Bill Barry “is a corporate America dropout with a background in funky and functional pottery.”Barry came to Summit County from New England about seven years ago. He wandered over to the CMC campus in Breckenridge and took the first step toward realizing one of his life’s dreams in filling out an application to teach at the two-year school.After a couple years in the business department, Barry came to the rescue of the college’s ceramics program, then on the verge of shutting down.”The ceramics teacher couldn’t teach anymore, and I had a studio in Silverthorne. Somebody called me and said, ‘Hey, they’re going to cancel the class.'”I said, ‘Yeah, I’ll do it. I’d rather have me do it than have the courses be canceled.'”And Barry has been behind the wheel ever since.

Inspiration: When I was in corporate America, I always said that someday I would teach at a two-year college, and I couldn’t wait to do it. I was happy in corporate America, and I was good at it, but there was more stuff for me to do, and I went to the mountains. I’m way happier doing this.Motivation: There are two things that motivate me: one is mud, the other is seeing people get exposed to and turned on to ceramics.The times I get the happiest are seeing people at the Raku kiln for the first time. Raku is the only reason I dig pottery so much. It’s a very ancient firing method that has not changed very much over the years.Through Raku, people who don’t know much about pottery can learn a lot. You can see inside the kiln the whole time – you get really close to the entire process of ceramics.

Philosophy: The teaching doesn’t matter. It’s the learning and the experience people have that counts. Especially in art, so much comes from inside of you, and there are so many things I can’t express in words.I try really hard to have people get things from a lot of different people – (studio assistants) Marnie, Rocket, Melissa and Jen – those people are a huge part of the creative energy in that place.Benefits: In a ceramics studio, you get to be protected from the politics of education and the politics of the world. Something about the clay protects you.Accomplishments: I have three kids, and they’re the best thing about me.

Heroes: Albert Einstein, but I also thought all those Davy Crockett and Daniel Boone guys were pretty cool, too.If I had $100,000: We do have a bit of a wish list, but there are a lot of great things already there. This little mountain community benefits so much from that college.Extracurricular: Being outdoors, skiing, rafting, skiing again and biking.My students would be surprised to know: They know too darn much about me already.- Julie Sutor

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