The Chair in Critical Thinking has forged a strong bond with the Saint John's Pottery and its director, Richard Bresnahan. Richard has served as Artist-in-Residence and director of the Pottery since 1979. Throughout the years, he has generously donated countless hours of his time collaborating with students, educators, visiting and local artists, writers, and community members. Together, Nick and Richard have welcomed critically acclaimed authors, poets, and artists to speak at the Pottery. Some of the more recent guests include Minnesota author, James Silas Rogers; Polish poet, Adam Zagajewski; Irish poet of the Year, Theo Dorgan; author Aine Greeney; and most currently New York Times columnist Dan Barry. Visitors are welcome in the studio to visit the gallery, purchase ceramics, and experience guided tours.
In addition to hosting academic events, Richard also provides mentorship as part of a formal apprenticeship program at the Pottery, instructs a one-of-a-kind course on environmental art and design, lectures and exhibits internationally on behalf of Saint John’s, and operates the largest wood-fire kiln in North America, the Johanna Kiln. As an artist and environmentalist, Richard creates pottery that has been described as “simple and profound”, with Minnesota origins. Richard also welcomes guests join him for afternoon tea heated using his irori, a traditional Japanese hearth and table used for heating tea water, generating warmth, and occasionally preparing meals. This rural and traditional framework embodies the University’s commitment to the integration of art and life, environmental sustainability, the linkage of work and worship, and the celebration of diverse cultures.