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Artist: Betsy Williams

Betsy Williams, NEW MEXICO

View available work by the artist


"A tree is known by its fruit."


Individual pieces, modest in scale, are at the heart of my work. I concentrate on unobtrusively conveying a sense of quiet attention and mystery. To my mind, the best pots are both understated and forthright, and can seem both new and familiar at the same time. They make themselves useful. 

My story:

Born and raised in rural Georgia, the youngest of three children, I grew up drawing. My father had a wholesale tire business and the leftover price sheets from his tire store were my unbound sketchbook. I was drawn by a love of books to St. John's College, the “Great Books School” in Santa Fe, New Mexico. After graduating, another three years of Russian language study culminated in a summer at the University of Leningrad. Next, I moved to New York City and got a job at a Japanese bank where I was trained as a money market trader. My co-workers at the bank introduced me to the world of Japanese ceramics, and a show of 17th century Korean celadon ceramics at the Metropolitan Museum of Art marked a defining moment in my life.

I was welcomed into evening classes at a small Japanese pottery studio in Manhattan while still working full-time at the bank. After five years, I left New York and sought out an apprenticeship in Japan, visiting many pottery studios before asking the artist whose work I admired most, Mr. Yutaka Ohashi of Karatsu, Japan, to take me as an apprentice. I studied with him for 4½ years.  Upon completing my apprenticeship, I returned to New Mexico to buy a remote plot of land in the mountains north of Santa Fe and set up my studio. I met my husband, Mark Saxe, who is a stone sculptor. Together we opened Rift Gallery in Rinconada, New Mexico, south of Taos along the Rio Grande rift valley. We also created Sax Stone Carving Workshops, a series of intensive seven-day summer classes, bringing together students from all over the world to learn from some of the best carvers in the field. Recently we founded Rio Grande Rift Institute, a non-profit dedicated to hands-on education in art and craft. We live in an adobe house on a hilltop adjacent to the Carson National Forest with our dog, Atticus Finch, turbo-charged puppy Agnes, and Mo the turtle, who came with me from Japan. 

In the early days of the pandemic, I embarked on a research project of New Mexico wild clays. This research is ongoing and has taken an increasingly prominent role in my practice.  



Solo Show: ClayAkar, Iowa City, Iowa, 2023

Group Show: Women of Woodfire Eutectic Gallery, Portland, Oregon 2020, 2021

Featured Artist: Northern Clay Center, Minneapolis, MN 9/2020, 3/2022

Group Show: Tableware Signature Shop, Atlanta, Georgia 2020

Solo Show: Weyrich Gallery, Albuquerque, New Mexico Annually / Bi-Annually  2008-2018

Solo Show: Touching Stone Gallery, Santa Fe, New Mexico 2002, 2003

Two Person Show: Kobo Gallery, with Birdie Boone, Seattle, Washington 2014

Two Person Show: Kobo Gallery, with Hanako Nakazato, Seattle, Washington 2012

Critical Function (NCECA), Invited by Janet Koplos, Framehouse Gallery, Pittsburgh, PA 2018

Put A Bird On It (NCECA), Invited by Birdie Boone, Portland, OR 2017

Sake Ware, Curator Jeff Shapiro, Lacoste Gallery, Concord, MA 2016

Crafted, Society for Contemporary Craft, Philadelphia, PA 2015 - 2018

American Pottery Festival, Northern Clay Center, Minneapolis, MN 2007 – 2016, 2018 – 2019

La Mesa, Santa Fe Clay (NCECA), various locations, Annually 2008 - 2017

Numerous invitationals, Santa Fe Clay Gallery, Santa Fe, NM 2005 - 2017

Steinfest, Claymakers, Durham, NC Annually 2013 - 2018

Numerous invitationals, The Clay Studio, Philadelphia, PA 2011 - 2018

Yunomi Invitational, AKAR, Iowa City, IA 2012 - 2014

Weyrich Gallery, Albuquerque, NM 2005-2007

Touching Stone Gallery, Santa Fe, NM 2005

Dixon Studio Tour, Dixon, NM 2001 - present

Off the Table, Missouri Western State University, St. Joseph, MO 2018

Box Pot, Creative Arts Workshop, New Haven, CT (juried by Garth Clark) 2014

Less is More, The Mitchell Gallery, St. John’s College, Annapolis, MD 2013

Workhouse Clay National, Workhouse Arts Center, Lorton, VA (juried by Peter Held) 2012

San Angelo Ceramics Competition, San Angelo Museum of Fine Arts, San Angelo, TX 2012, 2014

Ceramics Regional, University of Dallas, Dallas, TX 2009

Originals, Museum of Fine Art, Santa Fe, NM 2005

 (Not included are countless rejections & refusals from juried shows, exhibits, membership organizations.)

craft shows

Smithsonian Craft Show, Washington, DC 2011

American Crafts Council, Atlanta, GA 2008

Cherry Creek Arts Festival 2009, 2012


museum collections

San Angelo Museum of Fine Arts


curatorial / juror experience

Curator:  The Simple Cup, KOBO Gallery, Seattle, WA, December 2013

Juror:  Celebration of Clay, Ghost Ranch, Abiquiu, NM July 2014


publications / recognition

The Floor of the Sky by Marion Angelica Nov 2021 Studio Potter Magazine

Recipient of micro-grant, New Mexico Regional Development Corporation 2021

Crises and Creativity by Marion Angelica Feb 2021 Studio Potter Magazine

Project Leader, Embudo Valley Library Public Art Project for two sculptures 2021

the 72 tiny plate x haiku microseasons, Joanna McPherson and Betsy Williams, 1st printing 2019, 2nd printing 2020, 3rd printing 2022

What Makes A Potter, Janet Koplos, Schiffer Publishing 2019 (chapter)

Mastering Kilns and Firing, Lindsay Oesterritter 2019 (photo only)

Crafts Finalist, Martha Stewart American Made Competition 2015

New Mexico Potters & Clay Artists, Functionality Award, Celebration of Clay 2015 (juried by Debra Fritts)

Wood-fired Ceramics: 100 Contemporary Artists, Amedeo Salamoni, Schiffer Publishing 2013

Ceramics Monthly Magazine, “Studio Visit” 2013

Merit Award, San Angelo Museum of Fine Arts, Ceramics Competition 2012 (juried by Garth Clark)

New Mexico Potters and Clay Artists, Recipient of Scholarship, Critical Santa Fe, NCECA 2010

New Mexico Arts Commission, Recipient of Folk Arts Master Honorarium 2009

Honorable Mention Award:  Harwood Art Center, Albuquerque, NM, “Celebration of Clay” 2002

Articles in The Taos News, The Rio Grande Sun, Santa Fe Pasatiempo, New Mexico Magazine, Local Flavor Magazine 2001 - present


formal education and relevant experience

Founding member, The Rio Grande Rift Institute, 501(c)3 2020

Potter, enbi studio, Dixon, NM 2001 - present

Co-owner and Director, Rift Gallery, Dixon, NM 2005 – present

Dixon Studio Tour Commemorative Book, Project Leader 2011

Dixon Studio Tour President / Coordinator 2003, 2010, 2011

New Mexico Potters and Clay Artists, Treasurer 2002 - 2006

Japanese Language Proficiency Test, Level 2, 1998

Pottery Apprenticeship, Osugi Saraya Gama, Karatsu, Japan 1994-1999

Gunma Bank, Money Market Trader, New York, NY 1990-1994

St. John’s College, Santa Fe, NM Bachelor of Arts 1987

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