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Chiwa grew up in the rolling hills of Western New York State, near the town of Bliss, where her father and mother had a camp and school on two hundred acres of woods and field, lake, and brook. There she was happily immersed in Nature from the very beginning, making little pots from the clay in the stream.
That love and connection with the plants and animals, comes out in her pieces, depicting symbolically what she hears through Nature. The gardens that surround her and her husband Andrews home in Asheville attest to her love of the land, and their desire to create an urban Permaculture site. Her studio and their organic gardens are on the Handmade in America Books: The Craft HeritageTrails of Western North Carolina and Farms, Gardens andCountryside Trails of Western North Carolina.
Before she made clay pieces for a living, she was a teacher of Physical Education, graduating from Springfield College in 1967, and going on to teach elem. school PE, and then becoming the first women's' athletic director at MIT in 1970, where she coached, and taught and also started taking formal pottery classes. She moved to Colorado in 1973 for 10 years and taught pottery and helped run the coop by the name of Castle Clay, a working/teaching studio. In 1982 she moved to CT where she was the Potter in Residence at The Guilford Handcraft Center for several years.Then in 1986 back to the Boston area where she was a studio potter and taught pottery at the Emerson Umbrella for the Arts in Concord MA. In 1990 she moved to her present location, and set up her studio first at Floodzone Studios, and now in a lovely sunlit studio behind her home. She teaches annually at the John C. Campbell Folk School, and also teaches various workshops in creativity, incorporating movement with writing, poetry, painting and clay. She brings a joy and inspiration to whatever she focuses on, from functional pottery, to sculptural work, to digging in her garden, or singing and dancing in the kitchen. She is a founding member of Earthaven Ecovillage, not far from Asheville, a member of the American Crafts Council, and a happy member of the Southern Highland Handcraft Guild. Four of her sculptural Pieces are currently in a show called Thresholds Art and Spiritual Life that opened in Charleston SC in 2003 and will travel for 3 more years, around the SE.