Archives of American Art

A Finding Aid to the Michael Simon Papers, circa 1965-2020, in the Archives of American Art

Collection ID:
Simon, Michael, 1947-
circa 1965-2020
Physical Description:
4.3 Linear feet
50.74 Gigabytes
The Michael Simon papers measure 4.3 linear feet and 50.74 gigabytes and date from circa 1965-2020. The collection documents Simon's career as a ceramicist and educator. Included is printed material related to Simon consisting of publications, articles and exhibition ephemera; personal and professional correspondence with colleagues and galleries; letters from Warren MacKenzie; digital video recordings on his friends and mentors Warren Mackenzie and Ron Meyers; teaching files; writings by Simon and others; biographical information; exhibition checklists and forms; slides and photographs of works of art by Simon and others, Simon at work in his studio, friends, family and travel; materials relating to the book Michael Simon: Evolution edited by Susan Stokes Roberts; personal and financial information; lectures, including video and audio recordings; gallery talks and sales; kiln construction and documentation; glaze and clay body notes and recipes; and sketches. A portion of this material is in electronic format.

Scope and Contents
Scope and Contents
The Michael Simon papers measure 4.3 linear feet and 50.74 gigabytes and date from circa 1965-2020. The collection documents Simon's career as a ceramicist and educator. Included is biographic material comprised of resumes, Simon's MFA diploma from University of Georgia and and an adapted version of an interview conducted by Mark Shapiro in September 2005 for the Smithsonian Archives of American Art, as well as personal and professional correspondence with some original letters from Simon to others. Also included are wedding invitations, greeting cards and photographs from friends and family. Writings include a manuscript for his book Evolution, artist statements, lecture notes and video recordings, his M.F.A thesis, and notes on Warren Mackenzie. Also found are writings by others such as magazine article drafts and an NPR interview transcript with Warren Mackenzie where Michael Simon is mentioned. An annotated transcript and digital video recording of a University of Minnesota Panel Discussion and an annotated transcript of a Warren Mackenzie lecture and cassette tape recording at the Minnesota Historical Society is also included.
Professional Files document exhibition, publishing, financial and workshop records and recordings. Some documentation of exhibitions, and workshops are in born-digital and audio recorded form. Other materials include studio files regarding the construction and operation of kilns, as well as glaze and slip recipes. Studio files also document Michael Simon's website. Photographic materials make up the bulk of the collection and consist of photographs, including inkjet prints, negatives and slides of Michael Simon, his artwork, workshops, including his 1994 workshop and trip to Chile. Also found are photographs documenting the construction of his salt fire kiln and studio in Georgia, as well as photographs and slides of family, friends, and work by other ceramicists. The papers also include sketches and printed material consisting of magazine features and news clippings on Michael Simon, his book Evolution, and other artists including Warren Mackenzie. Additionally, there are exhibition catalogs, pamphlets, and invitation for both Simon and other ceramicists and reference books and articles on other artists. A portion of this material is in electronic format.

The collection is arranged as eight series.
  • Series 1: Biographical Material, circa 1982-2006 (0.1 Linear feet: Box 1; 0.087 Gigabytes: ER0001)
  • Series 2: Correspondence, circa 1968-2016 (0.4 Linear feet: Box 1)
  • Series 3: Writings, circa 1965-2020 (0.2 Linear feet: Box 1; 4.37 Gigabytes: ER0002-ER0003)
  • Series 4: Professional Files, circa 1993-2014 (0.2 Linear feet: Box 1, OV ; 30.5 Gigabytes: ER0004-ER0009)
  • Series 5: Studio Records, circa 1965-2020 (0.2 Linear feet: Box 1-2)
  • Series 6: Printed Material, circa 1973-2020 (0.6 Linear feet: Box 2; 8.73 Gigabytes: ER0010-ER0012)
  • Series 7: Photographic Material, circa 1965-2020 (1.8 Linear feet: Box 2-4; 7.06 Gigabytes: ER0013-ER0018)
  • Series 8: Artwork, circa 1965-2020 (0.1 Linear feet: Box 4)

Biographical / Historical
Biographical / Historical
Michael Simon (1947-2021) was a functional ceramicist and educator in Georgia. Originally from Minnesota, Simon earned his B.F.A from the University of Minnesota where he was a student of Warren MacKenzie. After receiving his B.F.A in 1970, Michael moved and set up a studio in Athens, GA, and would go on to receive his M.F.A from University of Georgia in 1980. That same year he built his own kiln and began keeping a pot from each kiln load to document his work's development. Throughout his career, his works were usually fired in salt kilns featuring motifs of nature and animals. His work has been shown in multiple exhibitions including a 2011 retrospective at The Northern Clay Center entitled Michael Simon: A Life in Pots covering 30 years of his pottery. In addition to numerous exhibitions, Simon taught several workshops at schools, galleries and studios across the country including at the Arrowmont school in Tennessee, and the Penland School and Cedar Creek Gallery in North Carolina. As well as abroad in Chile and Italy.
In 2011, Simon published his book Michael Simon: Evolution which was edited, and art directed by Susan Stokes Roberts, an award-winning designer, artist and Michael Simon's wife.

Sabine Lipten
Immediate Source of Acquisition
Donated in 2022 by Susan S. Roberts, Michael Simon's widow.
Processing Information
The collection was processed, and a finding aid prepared by Sabine Lipten in 2022.

Using the Collection
Terms of Use
The Archives of American Art makes its archival collections available for non-commercial, educational and personal use unless restricted by copyright and/or donor restrictions, including but not limited to access and publication restrictions. AAA makes no representations concerning such rights and restrictions and it is the user's responsibility to determine whether rights or restrictions exist and to obtain any necessary permission to access, use, reproduce and publish the collections. Please refer to the Smithsonian's Terms of Use for additional information.
Conditions Governing Access
Use of original papers requires an appointment and is limited to the Archives' Washington, D.C., Research Center. Archival audiovisual recordings must be digitized for research access. Researchers may access digitized audiovisual materials in the Archives' Washington, D.C. or New York, N.Y. Research Centers by appointment.
Preferred Citation
Michael Simon papers, circa 1965-2020. Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.

Related Materials
The Archives of American Art also holds a 2005 September 27-28 oral history interview with Michael Simon.

Keywords table of terms and types.
Keyword Terms Keyword Types
Ceramicists -- Georgia Occupation Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
American studio craft movement Topical Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Educators -- Georgia Occupation Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
MacKenzie, Warren, 1924-2018 Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Roberts, Susan Stokes Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid

Repository Contact
Archives of American Art
750 9th Street, NW
Victor Building, Suite 2200
Washington, D.C. 20001