Ceramicist Marianne Yoors Pioneers Event to Benefit Jefferson Market Garden

By M. L. Lamason

“It’s the earth and out of that earth something beautiful is made.” Marianne Yoors, ceramicist and longtime Village resident, was talking about the Jefferson Market Garden, its trees and plants, which in turn bring the birds and the butterflies, about how this living space provides contentment, delight, rest, even solace, whatever a visitor requires. But she could have easily been talking about the vessels and shapes, abstract and figurative, thrown, poured, kneaded and rolled, punctured and pulled by the students at Greenwich House Pottery.

As the garden is not just about magnolias and mourning doves, so the studio is not just about porcelain and terra-cotta. Each nonprofit has a long, rich history of building communities while serving Greenwich Village residents.

Recognizing their inherent value, Yoors introduced public garden to pottery studio and pottery studio to public garden developing a pioneer program between the two entities called Adopt-A-Pot.

Now in its 5th year, Adopt-A-Pot is the culmination of one woman’s commitment to community and to, well, let’s say to creating beauty. The format is simple: pots left behind by their makers (about 380 students a term, four terms per year) are donated to the garden. As a result, the studio clears off its shelves for the upcoming school year and the garden raises money for plantings, tools, feeding the koi, and sheltering a bird or two.

Pressed on how this event came about, her associations with both the studio and the garden, and how she came to become a ceramicist herself after working for decades weaving her husband’s, the artist Jan Yoors, gorgeous tapestries, she reflected: “pottery was something she could do, she didn’t have to be a genius, she didn’t have to be an artist.” She has been working with clay now for twenty-five years.

The studio gave Yoors a community and a purpose at a time when she needed both. Established in 1909 to help newly arrived immigrants learn a skill, the studio has since become renowned among ceramic artists worldwide. Its teaching staff includes master potters. Its students include professional visual and performing artists, as well as journalists, law professors, emergency room doctors, and elementary school children. Some are born and bred New Yorkers while others are transplants from Japan, Australia, and Puerto Rico. Some have been working clay for thirty years and some have only just started, some will throw a dozen bowls in a day, others will take an entire term to explore one form. They are passionate to master their medium and generous with sharing their experience and sensibility. In showcasing work by students, staff, emerging and established artists the studio’s Jane Hartsook Gallery advances the school’s mission to educate both students and the public at large about the diverse practices in contemporary ceramics.

As for the garden, well, she’s Dutch. Remember Holland’s 17th century tulip mania? Moreover, the garden supplies her with inspiration, specifically leaves, which she uses as templates for her work. Bred from the Village activism of the 60s and 70s to this day the garden is maintained by a dedicated group of local volunteers for the benefit of all.

JMG would like to thank Greenwich House Pottery Studio Director Adam Welch, Studio and Fabrications Manager Adam Knoche, the studio staff, students, and teachers, without whom we would not have pots; the volunteers at JMG without whom the garden would not bloom and this event would not take place; the patrons without whom the pots would have no home. And of course, Marianne Yoors without whom, well, there would be no thanking anybody.

For more information regarding JMG visit; for GHP visit


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