A legacy of creativity


Marvin Bartel has shaped a ceramics program that has cultivated a long list of potters, artists and teachers around the world.

Marvin Bartel teaching a class in 1994.
Marvin Bartel teaching a class in 1994.

Marvin Bartel, professor emeritus of art, has certainly left his mark on the Goshen College Art Department. When Bartel came to teach at Goshen College in 1970, the ceramics program rapidly grew as a focus for art majors and attracted students from other departments too. Bartel’s unique “try it and see” approach to teaching and learning and his students’ delight in the material and processes set the foundation for a program that remains popular to this day. One of the outgrowths of that perfect storm is that the Michiana area has become a hotbed for ceramic artists and an exceptional number of Goshen College alumni have made a life from working in clay. In the following pages you can see a sample of the exceptional work of many of those artists.

Goshen College is well suited to the training of a studio potter. Students can take entrepreneurship classes to learn the foundations for starting and running a small business. Marketing classes teach them how to promote their work, and the network of GC alumni spans the country.

In ceramics classes, students learn more than just throwing and hand-building techniques, how to fire in a variety of kilns and other studio processes. Throughout all art courses, students learn how to express their thoughts about their experiences of life. Fundamental to all of these is another set of understandings that Bartel championed – approaching decisions creatively.

That development of creativity is one of the most useful gifts that the Goshen ceramics program has provided to the many students who have taken beginning, and for many, the advanced classes. Those students have gone on to be studio potters and sculptors and painters and architects, but also engineers and nurses and teachers and accountants, all with the ability to bring together ideas from different sources to answer the truly challenging questions in our lives. Goshen students generally approach their world with ingenuity and determination, and the experience of getting their hands in clay and solving creative problems has been a strong contributor to that piece of the campus’ culture.

Thank you Marvin for your role in shaping this legacy of creativity!

Merrill Krabill ’79, Goshen College professor of art