John George Larson grew up on a farmplace in between Montevideo and Granite Falls. As an 8th grader he attended a youth theology summer camp at St. John’s University and was introduced to ways to make Japanese style medieval era pottery using local clay and wood fire. Today he creates sculpture, builds pizza ovens, throws pots and is an instructor at the Milan Village Arts School. He is passionate about clay and his deep sense of place. “I think being raised in this area I have it in my blood, “ said Larson. “I feel that it's the only place I belong at this point. For me, clay is a constant opportunity to look at myself. It shows me my impermanence, it humbles me; it allows me to connect with people.”
As Coordinator of the Milan Village Arts School, Ron Porep has presided over the emergence of the world’s first and largest gathering of spoon carvers that has been held the first weekend in June every year in Milan since 2008. More than 150 carvers attend the Spoon Gathering from Norway, England and Canada and all over the U.S. “The spoon represents friendship, family and gathering together,” said Porep. “It's a symbol of eating and friendship and family and community.”
Sandra Thompson of Montevideo took her first Silversmithing Class at the Milan Village Arts School 20 years ago and today is recognized as one of the most accomplished and prolific artists affiliated with the school. Thompson loves working with silver which she calls the “new gold.” She specializes in making “Viking Knit” silver wire jewelry using techniques developed more than 800 years ago in Norway. “My purpose is to share the love of the metal and the history behind the pieces that I make,” Thompson said.
The Milan Village Arts School, founded in 1988, is a non-profit, member supported organization dedicated to promoting the arts. Each year, the school hosts a diverse range of classes, reflecting the rich heritage of arts within the community. For more information, visit: www.milanvillageartsschool.org.