Eric Hahn lives in a world littered with pottery. In every nook and cranny, shelf and surface of his peaceful home and pristine wooded property, there are beautifully crafted bowls, plates, pitchers and remnants of his prolific pottery habit.
Though only ten miles outside the city limits, the home Eric and Roxanne Hahn share is a place where Pinterest dreams come to life. The many trees diffuse the light, softening the glow on years of collections from their own creations and their extensive travels. Their shared love of nature is apparent in the many gardens and plants and the overall fluidity between house and yard. Cats lounge on sunny beams. Dogs trot happily with fallen tree branches from the woods, and you can’t help but feel removed, relaxed and inspired by this place.
A professed nature lover, Eric grew up in the urban context of Wilkinsburg, PA, a borough just beyond Pittsburgh. No stranger to trouble, Hahn frequently found himself faced with detention after detention. Objecting to this “jail-like” method of punishment, he proposed his detentions be spent in the art room instead. His teachers complied, and he set to unearthing the dried, unused clay and teaching himself pottery. “I was lucky. At the time, the school had a lot of art supplies and equipment, and I very quickly became ‘that kid who knew pottery.’ If it weren’t for that art room, I very well may have ended up in jail because it was all to easy to get into trouble.”
From art room detentions, Eric continued to Edinboro University to study Fine Arts and Ceramics. “The professors all told me, ‘have a style. Define your style,’ but I’m not interested in defining ‘is this art?’ or “is this craft?’ I just like making stuff. I’m not going to put labels on it. I’ll figure out my ‘style’ when I’m 80...maybe. ”
After Edinboro, Eric completed an Artists’ Residency at Indiana University of Pennsylvania, where he first met Roxanne, who was an art student at the time. They went on a date or two, but it wasn’t until he was running the Manchester Craftsmen’s Guild that they reconnected. “She called asking to rent studio space. I recognized her voice, and we’ve been together ever since.”
Both sincere lovers of nature, Eric and Roxanne traveled west, camping and hitchhiking for a full summer. They returned for the sake of Eric starting a masters program at Kent State University, under the tutelage of esteemed ceramicist, Kirk Mangus. After the free-spirited summer of westward traveling, Eric felt uninspired by the prospect of settling for two years in Ohio. At the last minute, they changed their course and moved to New Hampshire.
While in New England, Eric pursued the idea of building kilns, but the cost of materials in New England was prohibitive. Meanwhile, Roxanne was more and more interested in farming. Realizing both their interests would be more economically feasible in Pennsylvania, they returned and eventually settled where they currently reside. Roxanne opened Roxanne’s Dried Flowers, and Eric started a long-distance masters program at Antioch University while simultaneously teaching at the Pittsburgh Art Institute.
Eric took a sabbatical from teaching to explore the pottery of the Native Americans of the southwest. He absorbed their philosophy of sustainability and using what was available to them in the most efficient way. These practices inspired his thesis project, for which he built a kiln from bricks and steel from inactive Pittsburgh mills. “It’s a jigsaw puzzle of weird crap, but it totally works.”
Eric’s kiln and his thesis streamlined the philosophy of his art:
Make beautiful things from what others might consider waste or pollution.
Create beauty without causing harm, ie “I don’t want to f%*k up nature with my stupid pottery.”
Eric Hahn continues to travel, teach and make pottery, which you can find exclusively at Roxanne’s Dried Flowers.