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Ceramic artist molds a career of her own


Her professors at the National Academy of Art in New York said Doris Faber would never amount to anything in her field. She was, after all, a woman in the 1930s, and being an artist was man's work.

So, Mrs. Faber, 75, spent 40 years proving them wrong.

Her ceramic art has impressed the local art community and her works, mostly displayed at the Margaret Smith Gallery in Ellicott City, are worth from $10 to $1,000.

Last year, Mrs. Faber captured awards in the Maryland Federation of Art Watercolor and Pottery Show and the River Gallery Show.

She also was crowned first-place winner in Maryland's Senior Citizen Art Competition in the ceramics category.

Mrs. Faber, who lives in Annapolis, said even as a child she knew art was her calling.

"I always wanted to draw, from the very day I was born," she said. "We didn't have any money back then so all I would do is draw pictures. When I got out of high school, I knew I wanted to do more than pound typewriters."

Mrs. Faber spent most of her life creating and selling oil paintings. But it wasn't until 1987, after she'd taken a few courses on sculpting at Anne Arundel Community College, that she realized sculpting was what she wanted to do.

Four years later she single-handedly developed her artistic platform.

Refusing to use a wheel to mold the clay, Mrs. Faber spends 10 to 12 hours shaping her works by hand. Instead of creating the typical wheel-developed bowl, she creates an image, a thought or re-creates a memory.

After the clay hardens, she paints the object, not missing any detail of color.

"I'm trying to establish a link between fine art and pottery. Why can't you paint a scene on a pot? It shouldn't be just a pot. Somebody should feel something when they look at it," Mrs. Faber said.

Her favorite works reflect memories of England.

A huge sculpture of a castle by a river, surrounded by green pastures and a mold of an old English telephone booth sitting on a country road, reflect her eye for beauty and her appreciation for nature. "I do pretty much anything," she said, pointing toward a sculpture of her grandchild and a mold of a joker. "I just feel my way around a pot. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't."

Mrs. Faber also creates "the ticky-tacky stuff," she calls it. This is the craft-show ware, the items people want for practical use: a vase, a bowl, a tea server. She acknowledges it's not her favorite art to create, but "it sells."

Ralph Komives, a faculty member of the art department at AACC, recognized Mrs. Faber as a talented artist and encouraged her to sell her works at a gallery.

"Her patience and motivation sustain her," he said. "Her real objective is to create a working perspective, an image. This is very difficult."

Mrs. Faber says she's not a modern painter.

"I know my limitations. Today's art is not my temperament because it's simply not free enough."

Doris Faber will present her handiwork at the Potters Guild Craft Show at Quiet Waters Park, Annapolis, in late March.

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