A Potter’s Progress

Bridgewater College Special Collections Showcases Historic Regional Pottery


Stephanie Gardner

A Potter’s Life features pieces from primary curator Scott Suter’s (left) personal collection as well as contributions from Bridgewater College’s Reuel B. Pritchett museum collection. Junior Meghann Burgess, right, was an intern who helped developed the exhibit.

Sienna Sullivan, Staff Writer

Bridgewater, Va. – “A Potter’s Progress: Emanuel Suter and the Business of Craft,” originally intended for Bridgewater audiences in the Spring of 2020, features a collection of pottery native to the Shenandoah Valley.

“It had been a calling of mine for a long time. It took me a long time to get it all together,” said Director of the Margaret Grattan Weaver Institute for Regional Culture and Professor of English, Scott Suter. 

Suter’s journey to this exhibition began in graduate school when his interest in local historic pottery was piqued by a personal connection.

“One of the potters, Emmanuel Suter, I found out was my great-great-grandfather,” said Suter. “At the time, I  had a class with a professor working in material culture who encouraged me to pursue this research.”

Suter spent the next decades chronicling the works and lives of the Suters and other Valley-native families with deep roots in the craft and eventually published his book, “A Potter’s Progress,” in the Spring of 2020. 

“Over the years, I’ve published a number of things on regional culture and “A Potter’s Progress” is a culmination of many years of gathering information,” said Suter. 

Though the display may be new to this year’s students, some of the pieces have been previously featured on BC’s Campus. 

“The pottery that Bridgewater College contributed to was in the Reuel B. Pritchett museum collection,” said Special Collections Librarian Stephanie Gardner, who was one of the exhibit’s collaborators. “Some items used to be featured in an on-campus museum that was located where the bookstore is now.”  

Also contributing to the “Potter’s Progress” exhibit were two BC student interns including junior Meghann Burgess.

“As a college student, we tend to take history classes that are mostly broader in a sense and not focused on regional history,” said Burgess. “I think for Bridgewater students to have this opportunity to connect with regional history, which we don’t normally get to in our classes, is a very valuable experience. I know it was for me.” 

The exhibit will be featured from Sept. 6 through Oct. 8 on the lower level of the John Kenny Forrer Learning Commons.