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Winthrop’s 25th pottery sale tips cap to ceramics professor

For 25 years, Winthrop University has hosted an annual Holiday Pottery Sale, featuring the work of talented students and faculty, thanks to longtime ceramics professor Jim Connell.

This year’s sale – noon to 6 p.m. Friday in the lower level of the Rutledge Building – is billed to be better than ever, with additional pottery by alumni ceramic artists and the recognition of Connell, who has worked at Winthrop since 1987. The work of 40 artists is expected.

“This is the biggest and best sale we have ever had,” said Connell, 63, a highly decorated, award-winning ceramic artist. “It’s a frenzy, and there is both excitement for the students seeing their pieces so coveted and the public, who really enjoys the event.”

Sale items include functional pottery pieces and decorative creations. More than 25 alumni – successful ceramic artists and art educators – are returning to the event to sell their wares.

Most pieces cost between $10 and $120, said Connell, who planned a career in law until he took a pottery class in college and fell in love with art. His work will also be for sale.

“It’s amazing how much gets sold in a very short amount of time,” he said.

For Winthrop, it’s a time to showcase the talent of its artists – past and present – and recognize the contribution of Connell, whose work has been featured in 513 exhibitions. It is also a fundraising event.

Through the years, the sale has generated thousands of dollars for student entrepreneurs, for the ceramics program, for equipment and for scholarships, Winthrop spokeswoman Judy Longshaw said.

“This year’s sale will be overflowing with pottery with the addition of these professional artists alongside current students,” she said.

The pottery sale is part of Rock Hill’s ChristmasVille, a four-day festival of Christmas-themed events that gets underway today.