Laura Ann Fry

female 1857-1943
19th-20th century
Life city:
Cincinnati, OH
Work city:
Cincinnati, OH
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Laura Anne Fry was born outside of Lafayette, IN in 1857. Her family moved to Cincinnati when she was ten so that her father could take a position at the McMicken School of Design. Laura displayed a remarkable talent at a young age, and was quickly invited to study at the school. During her teens, she studied drawing with Thomas Noble, modeling with Louis T. Rebisso, and wood carving with her father and grandfather. She opened a short-lived professional studio in Cincinnati where she worked on wood carving, china painting, and furniture design. Due to slow sales, she soon closed her studio and took a job at the Rookwood Pottery in 1881. Laura worked there until 1888, teaching modeling and pottery design to students in addition to working on decorations for the Pottery's commercial output. While there, Laura created an innovative technique for applying an underglaze color to her work – an idea that greatly impressed her professional potter colleagues. Laura was offered a position at Purdue University in 1890, as head of the Art Department. She returned to Indiana for this job and, except for a multi-year hiatus working for another pottery in Ohio, Laura worked for Purdue until her retirement in 1922. Under her leadership, the art department became well-known for its ceramics program, attracting so many students to the art department and the university as a whole that the school's enrollment outnumbered their primary in-state competition, Indiana University. Source: Skirting the Issue, by Newton and Weiss

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