MC Richards on why she chose Camphill Village Kimberton Hills
Poet, painter and potter MC Richards came to live at Camphill Village Kimberton Hills in 1984, as an artist-in-residence.
“Agriculture weaves through the fabric of my life as vividly as the threads of pottery, art, education, and inner development. Soil care and soul care are the heartbeat of the community in which I have chosen to live: Camphill Village Kimberton Hills in Pennsylvania. I was drawn to its practice of biodynamic agriculture and social therapy – part of a world-wide involvement of life-sharing with mentally handicapped adults in need of special soul care.
It might be assumed that I would live in a hand-craft based Camphill, like the one in Copake, New York, but I felt I had that element in my life already. I preferred to commit myself to an active support of healthy land and healthy food.
I felt honored and touched by the farmers’ request to make ceramic containers for their compost preparations: oak bark, nettle, chamomile, yarrow and dandelion. And the community turned to me for clay foundation stones to go into the earth under the altar of their new hall: Rose Hall…
In Kimberton I have taught art in the agriculture course, developing “The Renewal of Art Through Agriculture.” I have weeded the strawberries and gathered the basil, calendula, asparagus, sweet potatoes.
It is a privilege to live in a daily healing relationship to cows, field crops, garden, orchard, vineyard, berry patch, forest, and stream. Since childhood, I have loved the feel of the earth and cherished the non-toxic arts of agriculture. We cannot save our souls if we do not save the soil. The wholeness I seek resonates in the clay, color, and mystery of the earth’s body. We need more farmers!”
– MC Richards, 1916-1999
MC Richards was a faculty member at the experimental Black Mountain College (1949-51) with those soon-to-be avant garde luminaries in the New York art scene — Robert Rauschenberg, Elaine and Willem deKooning, Buckminster Fuller, Jacob Lawrence, Arthur Penn, Robert Motherwell, Merce Cunningham and John Cage – and where she worked with ceramic artists Karen Karnes and Robert Turner.
During her time at Black Mountain College, Richards wrote her first volume of poetry, Poems, which was published at the school’s Black Mountain Press in 1948. Author of the enduring classic Centering: In Pottery, Poetry and the Person, first published in 1964, Richards published other books with poetry and essays with a connection to creative arts and spirituality.
In the early 1960s she began teaching artistic classes that brought pottery and other forms of creativity together. Richards was awarded the Holy Names Medal from Fort Wright College in 1974, and was made a fellow of the Collegium of American Craftspersons of the American Crafts Council in 1976. In 1984 she moved to Camphill Kimberton where she took up painting and continued to teach until her death in 1999 at age 83.