Maija Grotell

MAIJA GROTELL (1889-1973) was the artist-in-residence and the head of the Cranbrook Academy of Art from, 1938-1966. Often described as the “Mother of American Ceramics”, she came to America from Finland in 1927 and went on to pursue a prolific career in the ceramic field. Grotell spent time at the New York State College of Ceramics at Alfred, New York. Grotell worked at Inwood Studios in Manhattan and went on to teach at Union Settlement and then at the Henry Street Settlement, while exhibiting and selling her own ceramics. From 1936 to 1938, she was the first art instructor at the School of Ceramic Engineering at Rutgers University. A diploma from the 1929 Barcelona International Exposition and a Silver Medal at the Paris International in 1937 were among the first of twenty-five major exhibition awards she was to receive over the next thirty years, including six from the Syracuse Ceramic National Exhibitions and the Charles Fergus Binns Medal from Alfred University in 1961. In 1938 she was invited to join the faculty at The Cranbrook Academy of Art, outside Detroit, Michigan.

Grotell's work has been purchased for twenty-one museum collections, including the American Craft Museum and the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, the Detroit Institute of Arts, the Art Institute of Chicago, the Everson in Syracuse, the Cleveland Museum of Art and the Cranbrook Academy of Art Museum.

(Photo Credit: Cranbrook Academy Archives)