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Christopher Benfey Signs Book at NC Pottery Center

Posted on 03/15/13

Seagrove, NC - The North Carolina Pottery Center is pleased to announce an upcoming event initiated by the NC Mt. Holyoke College Piedmont Alumnae Club.

Join us on Saturday, April 6, at the Pottery Center, in Seagrove, NC, for a book reading by celebrated author Christopher Benfey, professor of English at Mount Holyoke College. His recent memoir, Red Brick, Black Mountain, White Clay: Reflections on Art, Family, and Survival, traces his ancestry and his family's involvement in the brick-making and pottery traditions of North Carolina, and the pioneering educational institution of Black Mountain College.

Benfey will talk about the issues he raises in this critically acclaimed book, one of the New York Times' 100 Notable Books of 2012. Joining him in conversation, after the reading, will be North Carolina potter Mark Hewitt and pottery expert Professor Terry Zug. A book signing will follow.

In addition to writing many other award-winning books (see below), Benfey has written essays and poems which have appeared in the New York Review of Books, the New Yorker, and the Paris Review, among others. He is also a prolific journalist, serving as the long-time art critic for the online magazine Slate, and is a frequent contributor to The New York Times Book Review, and The New Republic, among many other publications.

Schedule:
1:30 - 3:00 "Exploring North Carolina Pottery" - Talk by Chris Benfey, author of the acclaimed book Red Brick, Black Mountain, White Clay: Reflections on Art, Family, and Survival, followed by a conversation with NC potter Mark Hewitt and UNC Professor Terry Zug. The event is free and open to the public. A book signing will follow.

Additional information - Christopher Benfey is Andrew W. Mellon Professor of English and Acting Dean of the Faculty at Mount Holyoke College, where he has taught since 1989. He was educated at the Putney School, Earlham College, Guilford College, and Harvard University (from which he holds a Ph.D. in Comparative Literature). In 2012, Benfey was elected as a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, one of the nation's most prestigious honorary societies.

A well-known scholar of Emily Dickinson, Benfey is the author of four highly regarded books about the American Gilded Age. These include A Summer of Hummingbirds: Love, Art, and Scandal in the Intersecting Worlds of Emily Dickinson, Mark Twain, Harriet Beecher Stowe, and Martin Johnson Heade, which won both the 2009 Christian Gauss Award of Phi Beta Kappa and the Ambassador Book Award. He is also the author of The Double Life of Stephen Crane (1992); Degas in New Orleans (1997); and The Great Wave: Gilded Age Misfits, Japanese Eccentrics, and the Opening of Old Japan (2003). Benfey's poems have appeared in The New Yorker, the Paris Review, and Ploughshares.

His family memoir, Red Brick, Black Mountain, White Clay explores strands of Benfey's family involving brick-making, pottery traditions in North Carolina, and the pioneering educational institution of Black Mountain College. The book was named one of the "100 Notable Books of 2012" by the New York Times. Subtitled Reflections on Art, Family, and Survival, the book is a meander through the circumstances that brought Benfey's extended family to the U.S. and the lives they established for themselves.

Benfey's mother descends from colonial explorers and Quaker craftsmen; his father, along with his aunt and uncle, the Bauhaus artists Josef and Anni Albers, escaped from Nazi Europe. Both strands of the family settled near the Piedmont of North Carolina, where his maternal grandfather crafted bricks from the area's red clay, and his uncle and aunt helped establish the Bauhaus-influenced Black Mountain College.

Exhibitions are made possible through the generosity of our membership, the Mary and Elliott Wood Foundation, The John W. and Anna H. Hanes Foundation, and the Goodnight Educational Foundation. This project was supported by the N.C. Arts Council, a division of the Department of Cultural Resources, with funding from the National Endowment for the Arts.

The mission of the North Carolina Pottery Center is to promote public awareness of and appreciation for the history, heritage, and ongoing tradition of pottery making in North Carolina. The Center is located at 233 East Avenue in Seagrove, NC. Hours of operation are Tue - Sat 10 am - 4 pm. For more information, please call 336.873.8430 or go to www.ncpotterycenter.org.

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