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Ceramic and Ancient Cultures

Gregory Wood’s fascination with ancient ceramics, and the people who created them, first began in the desert near Colorado Mesa University. 

Wood sought out clays from the canyons west of Grand Junction and learned how to mold and fire them to create his own ceramics while earning an associate degree in fine arts from Mesa Junior College in 1973. 

“Mesa got me on the right track,” said Wood. 

He went on to earn his Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in Ceramics from Colorado State University. Wood later returned to the Grand Junction campus and was among the first students to obtain their teaching certificates.

It was at that time that he reconnected with a professor, Don Meyers, from his first stint as a Mav and began to weave together his archaeological and ceramics backgrounds. 

Now retired after 15 years of teaching art in Fort Collins, he owns and is a full-time archaeoceramacist, a term he trademarked in the 1990s. 

Wood is a 2021 artist-in-residence at the National School of Ceramics near Guadalajara, Mexico, the latest in a series of achievements in understanding how ancient societies crafted their ceramics. In Mexico he is “connecting the dots between the pre-Columbian ceramics cultures of the Americas,” Wood said. 

Wood’s work is based entirely on archaeological references. To truly interpret how those societies created their works, he uses only prehistorically available native materials, tools, kilns and technologies to produce his pottery. 

Wood’s passion for the mysteries of ancient ceramics has led him to other world cultures. A two-year long project with researchers at Stanford University yielded a new understanding of the 9,000-year-old Neolithic ceramic technology of the ancient city of Çatalhöyük, Turkey. 

According to Wood, the roots of his current efforts lead directly back to his experiences at Mesa.


Written by Gary Harmon