Enriching lives through art and craft


“In 1992, I started a symposium, called Utilitarian Clay: Celebrate the Object. The reason I did it… it seemed like when I would go to national conferences, there was a lot of emphasis on conceptual art. And I was interested in the vessel; the functional object. Arrowmont has always had a strong ceramics presence, since the beginning of workshops in 1945. The Utilitarian Clay Symposium is a branded Arrowmont symposium that reflects that history. It’s been successful since it started almost 30 years ago.” – Bill Griffith

The Utilitarian Clay Symposium is a quadrennial conference held at Arrowmont with a focus on functional ceramics. Begun in 1992, Utilitarian Clay enjoys an international audience that “celebrates the object.” The Symposia attracts those who are interested in the practice and theoretical concerns in the field of functional ceramic objects.

The Utilitarian Clay Symposium brings together 16 internationally renowned potters who present lectures, demonstrations and panel discussions to a community of 200 symposia participants. Supporting exhibitions include a National invitational and symposium presenters exhibit, student juried exhibit, and more. Traditional events such as “Potters Favorite Pots,” a mug exchange, and social activities on campus bring the community together to create lasting memories.

Bill Griffith, Arrowmont’s assistant director, invited Utilitarian Clay I Presenter Peter Beasecker to co-organize the symposia with him in 1992. The two artists planned the following six conferences together over the following 20 years. In 2020, Chief Programs Officer Nick DeFord took over organization of future Utilitarian Clay Symposiums.

Utilitarian Clay VIIII Symposium is scheduled for September 2025. Registration will open in early 2025.


Utilitarian Clay VIII (2020) – Cancelled due to COVID-19
Utilitarian Clay VII (2016)
Utilitarian Clay VI (2012)
Utilitarian Clay V (2008)
Utilitarian Clay IV (2004)
Utilitarian Clay III (2000)
Utilitarian Clay II (1996)
Utilitarian Clay I (1992)

ART WORKSTENNESSEE ARTS COMMISIONTENNESSEE FOR THE ARTSTennessee Specialty License PlatesEAST TENNESSEE FOUNDATIONWindgate Foundation Arrowmont is being supported, in whole or in part, by federal award number SLFRP5534 awarded to the State of Tennessee by the U.S. Department of Treasury.

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