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Quite early on in my clay career I had a fascination with building forms and how they can be interpreted with pots. Two books I found a connection with are Bernard Rudofsky’s “Architecture Without Architects” and William G. Gabler’s “Death of the Dream”, Farm Houses of the Heartland. Many examples in these books speak to simple utilitarian purposes that are constructed with natural materials found in the areas where the buildings were built. Traditional potters achieve similar ends in a similar way.

I recently heard a remark about old objects having a soul, in part, based on the human connection to them. I see the houses in the Gabler book and the simple granaries and abodes in the Rudofsky book in a similar light. Most of the examples in the books are no longer inhabited but I feel a sense of the human contact when I observe them.

I am trying to capture in my work that soul, if you will, and the history I sense from the buildings in these books and from buildings and objects I have seen traveling to other parts of the world.

I continue to make usable pots while also trying to develop work that speaks more literally to the influences I have spoke of above. Covered pots have usually had a roof on them for me.

The figurative pieces grew out of the house forms by simply evolving directly with clay in the studio without any drawings. I still see them as coming from the building forms and hope their pose conveys something similar to the stance and gaze I feel from an honest building or an honest pot.

Academic Training
University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, MN 1966-1971, BFA 1971
University of Minnesota Graduate School, Minneapolis, MN 1971
Rhode Island School of Design, Providence, RI 1971-1972

Professional Experience-Ceramics
Graduate Assistant, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, MN 1971
Fellowship, Rhode Island School of Design, Providence, RI 1971-1972
Resident Artist, Milaca Public Schools, Milaca, MN1974-1977 NEA Grant
Instructor, St Cloud State University, St Cloud, MN 1978-1980
Instructor, University of Colorado, Boulder, CO 1980-1981
Instructor, Kansas City Art Institute, Kansas City, CO Summer 1982
Potter, Branum Pottery, Milaca, MN 1973-1984
MacKenzie Pottery Stillwater, MN 1984-1993
Branum/Pharis Studio, Roberts, WI 1992-present

Ceramic Workshops
Casper College, Casper, WY 1981
Appalachian Center for the Crafts, Smithville, TN 1982
Kent State University, Kent, OH 1983
Montgomery Potters Guild. Montgomery County, MD 1983
The Octagon Center for the Arts, Ames, Iowa 1984
Sun Valley Center for the Arts and Humanities, Sun Valley, Idaho
“Confluence” Continental Clay Company. Minneapolis, MN 1995 NCECA
Southern Illinois University, Edwardsville, IL 1999

Selected Exhibitions 1981-2002
Minnesota Pottery: A Potter’s View,
University of Minnesota Museum Gallery, Minneapolis, MN
Scripps Annual Ceramic Exhibition, Lang Art Gallery, Claremont, CA
Functional Ceramics, The College of Wooster Art Museum, Wooster, OH
Useful Pots, Arvada Center for the Arts, Arvada, CO
Spouting Ideas, John Michael Kohler Arts Center, Sheboygan, WI
American Ceramic National, Downey Museum of Art, Downey, CA
Macalaster Invitational ’83,Janet Wallace Fine Arts Center, St Paul, MN
Woodfiring in America, Craftsmen’s Gallery, Scarsdale, NY
Surface/Function/shape, University Center Gallery,
Southern Illinois University, Edwardsville, ILL
Contemporary Clay ’85, University Art Gallery, Rohnert Park, CA
Clay National, Erie Art Museum, Erie, PA
The Minnesota Connection, The Craftsmen’s Gallery, Scarsdale, NY
Utility Plus, Minnesota Gallery of the Minneapolis Institute of Arts,
Minneapolis, MN
Potter’s Potter’s, Lowe Art Gallery, Syracuse University, Syracuse, NY
Beyond Craft: A Celebration of Creativity, School of Visual Arts, NY, NY
“Warren MacKenzie Teacher: Followers In The Functional Tradition”
University Museum, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, MN
The MacKenzie Legacy, Manchester Craftmen’s Guild, Pittsburgh, PA
Functional Pottery: Two Generations, Nancy Margolis Gallery, NY, NY
New Work, The Phipps Center for the Arts, Hudson, WI 1994
Across The Big Muddy, Clay Artists of Wisconsin,
The Phipps Center for the Arts, Hudson, WI 1995
Wood Fired Pottery, Target Gallery, Alexandria, VA 1996
National Clay Invitational, Clay/Wood/fire/salt,
Contemporary Artifacts Gallery, Berea KY 1996
Tracing Tradition, Northern Clay Center, Minneapolis, MN 1997
Clay/Wood/fire/salt, Folk Art Center-SHCG, Ashville, NC 2000
Ohio Craft Museum, Columbus, OH 2000
New Work, Raymond Avenue Gallery, St Paul, MN 2001
25 Select 25 Gallery1021: Lill Street, Chicago, IL 2001
Functional Connections, Lacoste Gallery, Concord, MA 2002
Mingei Legacy, Mingei International Museum, San Diego, CA
Recent Work, Akar Gallery, Iowa City, IA
Centering: Clay and the Midwest, Freehand, Los Angeles, CA
“Raw” Santa Fe Clay Gallery, Santa Fe, NM
New Work, Trax Ceramics Gallery, Berkeley, CA
Gas It UP: Salt, Soda, & Slip, The Potters Guild of Baltimore, Baltimore, MD
Recent work, Andrews University, Barrien Springs, MI
Recent work, Santa Fe Clay, Santa Fe, NM
Group Show, Blue Spiral 1, Asheville, NC
Yunomis, AKAR Gallery, Iowa City, IA
Inspired: Students of Warren MacKenzie, Houston, TX
Double Chamber: Kilns of MN and WI, Trax Gallery, Berkeley, CA
American Pottery Festival, Northern Clay Center, Minneapolis, MN
“Potters as Sculptors, Sculptors as potters” NECECA 09 Mesa, AZ
“8 Fluid Ounces”, LSU School of Art, Baton Rouge, LA
“American Pottery Festival 2010”, NCC Minneapolis, MN
“Bricks and Mortar: Inspired by Architecture” Santa Fe Clay, Santa Fe, NM
“Studio Ceramics 2010” The Signature Gallery, Atlanta, GA
“ Classmates”, Northern Clay Center, Minneapolis, MN
“ Rob Forbes Selects” The Frank Lloyd Gallery, Santa Monica, CA
“ Pattern & Decoration”, a group Show, Tax Gallery, Berkeley, CA
“Don’t Box Me In” Signature Contemporary Craft, Atlanta, GA
Wayne Branum/Peter Presnail, Raymond Ave. gallery, St Paul, MN
2014 Ceramic Invitational Exhibition, Bloomington Art Center for the Arts,
Bloomington, MN

Studio Potter, Winter, 1975-1976
Ceramics Monthly, May, 1974, 1984
Craft Connection, 1st Qt. 1981, Sidelines
Ceramics Monthly, summer, 2002 “Functional Connections”
“See For Yourself” Rob Forbes, 2011

National Endowment for the Arts, Craftsmen Fellowship, 1978
Practicing Architect, Registered in States of MN, WI, 1991 to Present
Principal with Sala Architects, Stillwater, MN 2000 to Present
Studio partnership with Mark Pharis, Roberts, WI 1991 to Present
Jury for AKAR Gallery show-2007, Pots Influenced by Architecture.