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Joshua Primmer works at the pottery wheel in his home studio on Gage Place. (Provided by artist)
Joshua Primmer works at the pottery wheel in his home studio on Gage Place. (Provided by artist)
Joshua Primmer works at the pottery wheel in his home studio on Gage Place. (Provided by artist)

JACK McMANUS

Arts Editor

BENNINGTON -- When local sculptor Joshua Primmer was offered an artist-in residency position at the historic Medalta Potteries in Alberta, Canada, he knew it was an opportunity he couldn't afford to pass up. Now, using popular crowd-funding website Kickstarter, Primmer is turning to the community for help bringing his dreams to life.

Primmer, a lifelong Southern Vermont native who earned his B.F.A. in ceramics at Maine College of Art, has been running a ceramics studio in his home on Gage Place for the past six years. Specializing in modern ceramic sculpture and functional wares, including free-standing and wall-mounted sculptures, his work has been exhibited throughout Vermont, Massachusetts and New York. After years of independent work, Primmer recently decided re-focus his energy on returning to graduate school and becoming a full-time ceramics professor at the college level. Having already built up a strong portfolio, a long-term residency would be the last thing he needed to qualify for a master's in fine arts program. After his years of hard work, Primmer was excited to be accepted for a six-month residency at Medalta Potteries in Medicine Hat, Alberta -- a facility in the town's 150-acre Historic Clay District with an active artist-in-residence program.

At Medalta, Primmer will have the opportunity to sharpen his skills alongside other talented resident sculptors, exhibit his work in their world-class galleries, hone his technical skills on their top-notch equipment and experiment with complex designs that weren't possible in his home studio. He will also get the chance to start teaching classes and workshops, experience that will prove valuable to his success in graduate school and future academic positions.

While Medalta has plenty to offer, including some of the best facilities, faculty, and learning opportunities available anywhere, Joshua soon learned that Canadian work visas are nearly unattainable for American potters, so it wouldn't be able to offer him employment. Without the ability to earn an income during his residency, Primmer realized that his wife Rebecca, a science teacher at Mt. Greylock High School, and their 4-year-old son would have to stay behind in Bennington rather than move with him to Medicine Hat as planned. He would also need to find another way to pay for his housing, food and ceramics materials while in Canada.

Rather than let this financial problem discourage them, Primmer and his wife are turning to the community for help through Kickstarter, a website that helps artists, musicians, writers and designers fund their creative projects by attracting Internet users from around the world to invest in or "back" their endeavors -- but only if they raise enough to make their project a reality. For his 30-day campaign Primmer set an initial goal of $3,300, a sum that he says will cover two months of his stay at Medalta. While he hopes to raise as much as $10,000, which would fund his entire six-month stay, hitting his initial goal is crucial because, even if he misses by just a few dollars, he receives nothing if his campaign doesn't raise the requisite $3,300. With 13 days remaining before his Oct. 9 funding deadline, Primmer has already raised a respectable $2,791 from a total of 27 different backers.

With the project already approaching their goal, Primmer says the campaign is "going great." His wife Rebecca echoed this an optimistic outlook, saying she's "feeling very positive" about their progress.

Those who sign up to back Primmer's campaign will not only receive the gratification of helping a Bennington artist live out his dreams, but they will also be given interesting pieces of original ceramic art, all created by Primmer during his time at Medalta. These rewards range from handmade fridge magnets and mugs (for donors of at least $20 and $40, respectively) to one-of-a kind pieces of Canada-inspired sculpture for anyone who donates $250 or more. Besides these thank-you gifts for his backers, Primmer will spend his time at Medalta creating sculptures for his graduate school application, as well as a series of works to be exhibited at two-person show at the Frog Hollow State Craft Center in Burlington. The exhibit will also feature the work of Randolph-based woodworker and furniture builder David Hurwitz.

To sign up as a backer of Primmer's Kickstarter campaign, or for more information on the project, search "Joshua Primmer" or the campaign's title "Let's send Josh to Canada!" on kickstarter.com. As of press time the campaign is 85% funded with $509 left to raise and 13 days left, don't miss out on your chance to help a local artist (and buy yourself a nice gift in the process!).