Guillermo Cuellar

Guillermo Cuellar


   18855 263rd St., Shafer, MN, 55074

I was born in Maracaibo, Venezuela in 1951 and studied ceramics at Cornell College, Mt. Vernon, Iowa, where I fell in love with the potter’s wheel and the unpretentious beauty of old pots. After working as an environmentalist I returned to pottery in 1980. With the certainty of youth I embraced the notion that pursuing the life of an artist potter was possible and would lead to a better society.

In 1986 I set up a studio in the village of Turgua, an hour southeast of the capital city, Caracas, where I made pots for the following 18 years. Traveling in Venezuela, I came across the baskets, pots, weaving, and woodwork of native Indian people. Seeing their beautiful folk art in its context in daily use was an epiphany. It was not only the handwork I loved but the capacity of these pieces to transcend their function and bring people together; to be vessels of the group’s identity. The way the Indians relate to their art, not at a distance but keeping it close at hand, remains an ideal to me. In that spirit, my pots are made for use, for preparing and sharing food. I want them to be accessible, not confined to a formal setting or behind glass. Beautiful handmade objects should be a part of our daily lives, often in use in our hands.

In 1992 a group of my Venezuelan potter friends came together to found Grupo Turgua, a non-profit association of artisans dedicated to the support of good craft in Venezuela. From 1992 to 2005 Grupo Turgua hosted twenty-eight group sales at the Turgua studio, offering pottery, jewelry, photography, woodwork, drawing, weavings, Venezuelan native crafts and other creative work.

In 2005 my wife, Laurie, our children and I moved back to the USA and established a home, studio and showroom in the upper St. Croix River valley near Shafer, Minnesota, where I am currently making pots. In 2008 I was invited to participate as one of seven host studios on the Minnesota Potters of the Upper St. Croix Valley Annual Pottery Tour.