A Mexican artist: Marybeth Coulter Best, art in pottery

articles Culture & Arts

Helyn Bercovitch

Our cover this month is graced with a ceramic plate, lovingly created by local potter Marybeth Coulter-Best. Originally from Meno, Oklahoma, Marybeth makes her home at Lakeside. She credits her Mexican garden as the inspiration for all of her latest works. Marybeth is also a gifted photographer and painter; her work has been shown and sold at local galleries. Recently, Marybeth’s work has been accepted in the prestigious Porcelain 2001 Exhibition in Rochester, New York.

This multi-talented lady was raised on a cattle farm, where she inherited the work ethic that is needed in the art of pottery. Kneading clay and molding the pieces takes a lot of physical as well as creative stamina. The farm also gave her a love of the earth and growing things, which are the subject of her craft.

Marybeth’s mother and brother are professional authors. Her mother took up the computer in her 80’s and is still writing books on genealogy at 91, while her brother resigned his position as a university professor turning his attention to writing on subjects like yoga. The other daughter in the family is a nurse in Colorado. It seems the entire family takes an interest in creative, healing endeavors.

From the age of 5, Marybeth studied the piano, which culminated in teaching music to 4th graders. Although she has a Masters Degree in Education, Marybeth said, “I just became burned-out on teaching music”. She is still a teacher, however, a teacher of pottery, giving classes to interested individuals in at her Estudio Pradera de Flores (Prairie Flower Studio) here at Lakeside.

The following is an excerpt from a letter written by one student:

The pieces I produced under Marybeth’s direction were accepted into the university art gallery on my return from Mexico. If you ever have the opportunity to study with Marybeth, who has established pottery, painting and photography studios in Colorado, California and Mexico, you are inviting yourself to a real treat. You will uncover other gems as you spend time with her. She has work in various collections and countries around the world, including Japan, France and Russia and is an award-winning artist. I will save a few secrets for her to tell.

Marybeth has also worked with a team of doctors in Nepal, documenting their work on film. She has photographs from all over the world, but still remembers the very first picture snapped with her Brownie Hawkeye, which is still tucked away among other treasured possessions. “My first photograph was a Spanish house in Oklahoma. Guess I was always attracted to this style of building. I love Mexico because it encourages me to go wild with colors.”

The new direction of her pottery is to capture the colors and forms of the flowers growing in her garden, experimenting with techniques involving multiple firings and layering glazes that melt at different temperatures into the mystical patterns that are the flowers in her Mexican garden. “I like to call them meditation plates because I see them as flower mandalas.”

A student of Eastern religions, Marybeth told me about her attraction to Mino (remember she hails from Meno, Oklahoma), a town in Japan where the famous Kenzan pottery is produced. “I don’t know if you believe in reincarnation, but I feel I was there in another life. I like to create one-of-a-kind pieces combining Japanese and Mexican styles.”

Marybeth maintains an on-line Gallery at kosaipottery.com

This article appears courtesy of the Chapala Review, a monthly Newspaper published in Ajijic, Jalisco, Mexico. The focus is the Lake Chapala area. The goal is to provide quality information about the area, its stories, events, history, culture and people.

Published or Updated on: January 7, 2007 by Helyn Bercovitch © 2008
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