In 1962, a Washington D.C.-based potter named Dennis Parks stopped in Tuscarora during a cross country road trip. He had heard about the remote Nevada community—located an hour north of Elko—from a friend who had recommended it as the perfect artist retreat. Parks fell in love with all of it and resolved that this wouldn’t just be where he’d go to escape the city. In this near-ghost town, he would build a college.
Parks decided to trial a summer program for his dream pottery school in 1966. The 30-year-old teacher arrived in Tuscarora with his wife, Julie, and some friends, and the group got to work. Cash-strapped and without supplies, they turned to the town and its surrounding landscape for material. A carriage shop became the studio, abandoned mills provided bricks for firing, and ancient mine tailings were harvested for clay.
The first program was a massive success and attracted seven students for a few weeks. In 1969, Parks expanded the school to a 9-week program that could accommodate 14 students. As the years went on, students became instructors, and a new generation of potters studied under Parks. During the off-season, the school became a retreat for professional artists and teachers.
Parks passed in 2021, but the school still has dedicated instructors and high-quality sessions. Typically, two different two-week-long ceramics workshops are offered every summer. The gallery and gift shop also offer beautiful pottery pieces created by instructions and friends of the school.