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Meet Emily Schroeder Willis of Emily Schroeder Willis Pottery in Ravenswood

Today we’d like to introduce you to Emily Schroeder Willis.

So, before we jump into specific questions about the business, why don’t you give us some details about you and your story.
As a young high school student, I was fascinated by the idea of making the perfect bowl lined with a black glaze, so I could see the milk in my cereal. Twenty years later, I am still fascinated by new ways to look at familiar objects. I hand build all of my pots only using my fingers. They create a mark in the work that creates a softness to it and when the user holds the work, it is as if our hands are touching. I love that kind of intimacy in an object. Simplicity and the mark of the hand are important to my work, which steps back to a time where work isn’t about production, but rather the touch of a fingertip.

I have a BFA from the Universtiy of Minnesota, Twin Cities, an MFA from the University of Colorado, Boulder, and held residencies at the Archie Bray Foundation in Montana, the Zentrum für Keramik in Berlin, Germany and Watershed Center for the Ceramic Arts in Newcastle, Maine. I was also a visiting artist/instructor at the Alberta College of Art and Design in Canada. Currently, I am a Lecturer at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.

Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
Being an artist is always a challenge. I often think the biggest challenge is showing up in the studio. Life gets messy, jobs are demanding, family is important, all of those are things that can prevent you from getting into the studio on a regular basis and make work.

Alright – so let’s talk business. Tell us about Emily Schroeder Willis Pottery – what should we know?
I make hand built pinch pots primarily. Most people think of pinch pots as that first lumpy mess they made in class when they were in kindergarten, which to be honest, is what I thought of them when I first started making them. But I wanted to create pinch pots that were elegant, beautiful and minimalist. Lately, I have been pushing myself to work beyond my roots in ceramic vessels and I have been dabbling in some painting and wall sculptures.

Any shoutouts? Who else deserves credit in this story – who has played a meaningful role?
Mark Pharis was a professor of mine at the University of Minnesota. I always admired his aesthetic and his work. His work lived in this weird space of functional ware that was really sculpture. It is architectural in nature and has this incredible quiet presence.

Another person, whom I have drawn a lot of inspiration from is Kim Dickey, who was one of my professors at CU Boulder. I loved the sensitivity in her work. I was also always in awe of the way that Kim floated between mediums, whether it was printmaking, pottery, installation, metalwork or performance pieces, she seemed to be able to cross all of these areas seamlessly. Flawlessly, to be honest. And, she is brilliant! If I ever bump into her, I always like to know what she has been reading since she is a voracious reader and always has an incredible book list.

Contact Info:

  • Address: 4636 N Ravenswood Ave, #105 Chicago, IL 60640
  • Website:
  • Email:
  • Instagram: eswpottery

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