About The Artist
Meet Clare Jurczak, the potter behind Elk River Clay.
I have been throwing on the potter's wheel and creating functional ceramic wares since a young teen. Over the years, I took every opportunity to keep creating amidst a busy schedule of studying natural resources and working in Alaska and Montana. Wherever life brought me, my desire to make ceramic art was unwavering, though often on the back burner. In 2021, I decided to invest more deeply in my passions and built my home pottery studio here in Montana.
Being an artist is far from my first my trade. I have little formal ceramic education and training. In fact, most may know of me working various jobs in fisheries management and conservation in my hometown of Sitka, Alaska. Or, of my time spent growing, foraging, hunting, and cooking food.
In 2020, my partner Mack and I quit our seasonal jobs in Alaska decided to make our small 4 acre homestead in Montana a full time home. The transition to Montana life was surprisingly hard---neither of us had rooted down in one place for a whole year in a long time. I kept looking around our new landscape and community and expecting it to feel like my pristine island hometown in AK. But when facing any challenge, there comes clarity for what you truly need---and what feeds your soul. I began digging for solace and connection by first learning about the ecology of the prairie that surrounded me. I studied the plants, historic bison and animals migrations, and the geologic formations of the ancient Yellowstone River valley that we reside in. I also built a huge herb and vegetable garden, turkey coop, and began hunting deer and elk for food. These monumental projects helped me discover purpose, peace, and oddly enough, a new found confidence in my ability to teach myself new and difficult skills. It suddenly felt like time to return to pottery and through much trial and error, begin to master a practice.
I am home when I understand the rhythms of the environment around me and reap the rewards of my own two hands. Elk River Clay is a passion project to translate what I experience while pursuing a subsistence life on the Great Plains. The name comes from an original place name of the Yellowstone River--named for an elk migration from what is now Yellowstone National Park to the low valley out our back door. My work is an expression of the gratitude; for the bounty of our homestead, the diverse river bottoms, and the beauty of the big Montana sky.
Thanks for popping in!