John Parker Glick (1 July 1938 – 6 April 2017) was an American ceramicist. Though open to artistic experimentation, Glick was most influenced by the styles and aesthetics of Asian pottery—an inspiration that shows in his use of decorative patterns and glaze choices. His experience working with ceramics led him to publish several articles about the craft. In addition to producing pottery, Glick began making “landscape oriented” wall panels during the latter part of his career. Known as “the people’s potter,” he is primarily remembered for his contributions to art and the field of ceramics.
Education and career
John Glick was born on 1 July 1938 in Detroit, Michigan. The child of two parents with an affinity for art, Glick began his life surrounded by creativity. His father, a grocery store manager, had an interest in gardening and painting; his mother, a homemaker, enjoyed cooking, sewing, and crafts. From a young age, Glick was included in his parents’ projects, and he began formally studying art himself in high school.
As a student at Wayne State University, Glick studied geology for one semester, but quickly decided to major in both ceramics and metalwork instead. He earned his BFA degree in 1960. Studying under ceramicist Maija Grotell at Cranbrook Academy of Art, he received his MFA in 1962. After graduation, Glick was drafted and served in the United States Army until 1964. During that time, he was stationed in West Germany, in a town home to many salt-glazing potteries. Inspired by conversations with these potters, Glick strengthened his resolve to one day work full-time as a potter in his own studio.
Upon returning home to Michigan from the military in 1964, Glick founded his studio, Plum Tree Pottery. Over the course of his career, Glick, encouraged by an art collector he had met, decided to begin a personal collection of his own work. Over 50 years, he saved approximately 1,000 pieces—a large number, but a small fraction of the estimated 300,000 pieces he created in total. Though Glick admitted that saving those works was difficult “because they should have been out in the world,” he was then able to use that personal collection as an aid for the 33 apprentices and residents with whom he worked at Plum Tree Pottery. He operated the studio until 2016, when he and his wife, Susie Symons, moved to California to be closer to their family.
One of the most crucial parts of a career so extensive, one that spanned five decades and yielded 300,000 pieces of pottery, was open-mindedness. Glick cited his “love of process” and “the ability to ask questions of [himself]” as two factors which shaped his career. The former led him to personally develop new tools and machinery in order to expand his physical means of creation. For example, he recalled “outgrow[ing]” his manual extruders and consequently designing his own hydraulic extruders to use instead. Similarly, the latter influenced how he conceived of his work in the first place, shaping how he decided what to create and how to create it.