By Noah Ravan ’22
Jim Hackney ’77 and Scott Haight have close to 400 pieces of pottery in their collection, and they’re displaying a portion of it at Wofford College over the next four months.
The Hackney-Haight Collection will be on exhibit in the Richardson Family Art Museum through May 22. It’s titled “I Work with Clay.” The exhibit features many utilitarian pieces made in North Carolina, including pots, plates, mugs and vases made by potters who are considered living gems in the Tar Heel state.
“There’s something wonderful about sitting down with a lump of mud and turning it into something beautiful,” says Hackney, who became interested in pottery at a young age.
The Richardson Family Art Museum is open to the public on Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday from 1 to 5 p.m., and on Thursday from 1 to 7 p.m. Admission is free and no reservation is necessary. The college’s COVID-19 policies require masks to be worn inside of campus buildings.
Some of the potters whose work is on exhibit include Cynthia Bringle, Mark Hewitt, Matt Jones, Vernon Owens, Ben Owen III and Alex Matisse. Matisse is the great-grandson of French modernist painter Henri Matisse.
“I grew up near Seagrove in North Carolina, which is sort of the pottery center of the United States,” says Hackney, a retired fundraising professional, who lives in Asheville, North Carolina. “The clay in the ground there is perfect for creating pottery.”
His passion followed him through his time at Wofford College.
“While I was studying at Wofford, I did an independent Interim with two other students and we worked to build our own kiln,” Hackney says. “We learned how to fire pottery and started making our own ceramics.”
Hackney spent part of his career in development at the Mint Museum of Art in Charlotte, North Carolina. It has a renowned collection of pottery and ceramics.
“As I got to learn more I fell in love and started collecting pottery myself,” Hackney says.
He decided to bring that passion back to Wofford’s campus by displaying more than 50 pieces in his collection with Haight.
“I can’t speak highly enough about what my Wofford experience meant to me as a student,” Hackney says. “I was a humanities major, and that education prepared me for such a wide variety of challenges. To have Wofford ask to feature some of our collection means the world to me.”
Dr. Youmi Efurd, museum curator, said the Hackney-Haight Collection showcases the importance of North Carolina when discussing American pottery.
“It’s very important to have good clay and a consistent supply of it,” Efurd says. “North Carolina is famous for the quality of its clay and the tradition they have built.”
Both Hackney and Efurd hope that the exhibit will be a learning experience for students.
“We wanted to include pottery that students could learn techniques from and apply that to their own work,” Hackney says.