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Author, translator, and artist

Mary Caroline Richards ’37

A picture of M.C. Richards

Courtesy of Black Mountain College Portraits

Mary Caroline (M.C.) Richards ’37, September 9, 1999, in Kimberton, Pennsylvania, where she had lived in 1984.

M.C. was a poet, potter, essayist, translator, and painter. She earned a BA from Reed in general literature and a PhD in English literature from the University of California, Berkeley, in 1942, and taught English at Central Washington College of Education and the University of Chicago for several years.

 She married Albert Levi in 1945 and they joined the faculty of the experimental Black Mountain College in North Carolina, where she taught writing, produced plays, and studied pottery under Robert Turner.

After her separation from her husband in 1951, she moved to New York, where she continued to study and make pottery. She also worked on the first English translation of Antonin Artaud’s The Theatre and its Double, which was published by Grove Press in 1958. In 1954, she and a group of artists and writers established a commune called the Land, near Stony Point, New York, where she lived and worked for 10 years. While there, she and a fellow potter developed a flameproof clay that enabled them to make ceramic cookware.

In the ’60s, she began to give pottery workshops that became increasingly interdisciplinary, bringing together various concepts of centering. She lectured and taught workshops in schools in the U.S. and Britain, and was affiliated—from 1985 until her death—with the University of Creation Spirituality, in Oakland, California.

Her books, which often mixed prose and poetry, included The Crossing Point (1973); Centering in Pottery, Poetry, and the Person (1989); Imagine Inventing Yellow (1991); and Opening Our Moral Eye (1996).

In 1989, she began painting, and in 1997 held an exhibition of ceramics, poems, and paintings at the Works Gallery in Philadelphia.

She received an honorary doctorate in humanities from King’s College in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, in 1993.

At the time of her death, she was writing a book on educator Rudolf Steiner and was living at Camphill Village, a community based on Steiner’s philosophy.

The Fire Within a biographical video, along with M.C.'s workshop Creativity: Clay, Color, and Word, and her books, are available from Kane-Lewis Productions.

Appeared in Reed magazine: February 2000

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