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Mary Givens Sheerer
(Covinton, KY, 1865 - 1954 (December 3), Cinncinati, OH)
Mary Given Sheerer was an was an American ceramicist, designer, and art educator. Her primary experience and interest was in design and “industrial arts.”
Born in January 1865 in Covington, Kentucky, Sheerer was trained in the fine arts at the Cincinnati School of Art, which was strongly influenced by the English Arts and Crafts movement. She was studied at the Art Students League in New York and the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, and was a pupil of Denman Ross, Arthur W. Dow and Hugh Breckenridge.
In the early 1890s, Sheerer worked at Rookwood Pottery Company. In 1894, Newcomb art faculty founders William Woodward and Ellsworth Woodward made Sheerer their first faculty hire. She became a full professor in 1903. From 1903 to 1909, Sheerer was appointed as professor of pottery design and supervisor of pottery decoration; her official title was Professor of Pottery and China Decoration. In 1909, Sheerer was promoted to Assistant Director of Pottery.
Working closely with potters Jules Gabry and Joseph Meyer, Sheerer was primarily responsible for establishing a successful studio, making use of locally available equipment, clays, and glaze materials. As the professor of Pottery and China Decoration, her aesthetic strongly influenced the shape and character of the Newcomb ceramics program for almost forty years.
Sheerer’s works were displayed at the Louisiana Purchase Exposition in 1904, and the Panama-Pacific International Exposition in 1915. She was noted for designing glazes and pottery decoration.
She was a member of the Hoover Commission as a delegate of the American Ceramic Society at the International Exposition of Modern Decorative and Industrial Art in Paris in 1925. Through her lectures and writings, she was recognized all over America as an authority on ceramics.
She constantly brought out the importance of cooperation between art and trade.
Sheerer retired from the Newcomb faculty in 1931. Post Sheerer's retirement from Newcomb Pottery, she was awarded as a fellow of the American Ceramics Society on March 11, 1931.
Sheerer continued to be a member of the New Orleans Art Association, the Cincinnati Woman’s Art Club, the Crafters’ Club, and tje Cincinnati Museum Association. She was also a fellow of the American Ceramic Society, for which she published several articles.
Mary Given Sheerer died in December 1954 in Cincinnati at the age of 89.