Richard Bresnahan and The Saint John’s Pottery

In 1979, Fr. Michael Blecker OSB, then president of Saint John’s University, invited Richard Bresnahan to return to his alma mater to build a pottery program adapting Japanese techniques and incorporating indigenous materials. Bresnahan had studied pottery at Saint John’s University under Bill Smith and S. Johanna Becker, OSB, a distinguished scholar of Japanese art.

Upon his graduation, S. Johanna arranged an apprenticeship for Bresnahan with Nakazato Takashi in Karatsu, Japan, where the Nakazato family has been producing pottery for 14 generations. After completing his apprenticeship, Bresnahan was named a “Master Potter” by his teacher Takashi, the son of a National Living Treasure of Japan, Nakazato Tarōuemon XII (Muan).

As Artist-in-Residence at The Saint John’s Pottery, Richard Bresnahan has distinguished himself as a renowned potter both nationally and internationally. Over the years, his work has been featured in numerous publications including: The New York Times; The Chronicle for Higher Education; Studio Potter; Utne Reader; Minnesota Monthly; and Cargill News.

Photography of Bresnahan’s ceramic work from an exhibition at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts is also featured in a book of poetry by Jerome Freeman entitled Starting from Here. On Earth Day 1996, Bresnahan received the Earth Day Award from the Upper Midwest Network of Business for Social Responsibility.

Richard Bresnahan and The Saint John’s Pottery have been the subject of a number of major exhibitions and documentary film projects, including the national exhibition tour Stoked: Five Artists of Fire and Clay and the regional exhibition tours Body of Clay Soul of Fire: Richard Bresnahan and The Saint John’s Pottery and Minnesota Potters: Sharing the Fire.