Cherokee, NC (Qualla Boundary)
Bernadine George grew up around traditional pottery making. She observed her mother, a potter, at work, and absorbed some of her instincts and techniques by observation. When, as a young adult, she decided to take up pottery herself, it was her sister-in-law who taught her to create and fire pinch pots.
George developed her pottery skills over the years, in the spare moments she could grab while working and raising a family. She became a highly accomplished potter, well respected in the community of traditional Cherokee artists.
In 2002, Bernadine George was one of several potters involved in a workshop sponsored by the Museum of the Cherokee Indian and the Research Laboratories of Archaeology at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, in which artists and scholars gathered to learn about the Cherokee people's ancient, forgotten pottery styles. Inspired by the gathering, George and other potters began to experiment, learning by trial and error the techniques used by their ancestors who made strong, thin-walled pots with paddle-stamped designs on the sides. George mastered many of the ancestral methods, and as an artist, teacher, and founding member of the Cherokee Potters Guild, she became an influential figure in the revival of ancient Cherokee pottery traditions.
Bernadine George passed away on November 14, 2016 at the age of seventy-two.
Note: "Historic Artist" designates one who is deceased but whose legacy continues to influence and inspire new generations.