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Greenwich Expert Compiles Decades Of Data Online On Ceramics, Pottery

Martha Vida with a variety of pieces from her personal collection of American studio ceramics.
Martha Vida with a variety of pieces from her personal collection of American studio ceramics. Photo Credit: Jayson Byrd

GREENWICH, Conn. — Greenwich's Martha Vida, a ceramics and pottery collector and a onetime interior designer, has converted a lifelong interest in the arts into a treasure trove of Internet information.

Vida has established the Internet’s first free searchable database for American studio ceramics and pottery produced since the end of World War II.

The end results is called "The Dictionary of American Studio Ceramics, 1946 to Present." It can be found at www.themarksproject.org .

The registry is an illustrated encyclopedia of American studio ceramics, assembled for the first time in electronic form. It is a listing of ceramic artists, active and departed, with the marks and signatures commonly found on the bottom of their work—enhanced with images, biographies, bibliographies and a directory of museums and galleries where the pieces are on display.

“What the site does,” Vida says, “is make all of the listed ceramic artists visible to a larger audience, giving wider exposure to a circle of talented people who have remained largely anonymous to the outside world. In the past you might come across a fantastic piece but there was really no readily authentic way to identify the maker.”

Under a nonprofit structuring, the site carries no advertising, has no fee to ceramic artists for documenting their work on the site and no costs are incurred for searching. It is also not a valuation tool. Nor are any items appraised critically.

Vida characterizes the realm of ceramics and pottery as “an insight into understanding our culture.”

Vida, founding director of the catalog, is to be honored by the nonprofit Clay Arts Center in Port Chester, N.Y., on Oct. 20 “for her passion for making clay artists visible and increasing their ability to establish a presence in the larger market place of collectors, writers, researcher, curators and gallerists.”

An evening called “Hand to Hand” at the Willow Ridge Country Club, 123 North St., Harrison, N.Y., also recognizes artist-educator Harriet Ross of Hartsdale, N.Y., and philanthropists Anne Owen and the late Bill Owen of Scarsdale, N.Y.

The Marks Project is a publicly supported 501(c)3 nonprofit. Tax-deductible contributions can be made on the website or sent to The Marks Project, 1117 E. Putnam Ave., Riverside, CT 06878.

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