Most artists spend their early years refining their techniques in their preferred mediums.
Tammy Beane spent years working in investment banking.
Now renowned across the country for her reproductions of prehistoric and early historic Native American pottery, Beane had no artistic inclinations when she graduated from college and worked at Merrill Lynch.
But then she began dating her future husband, Larry Beane, a park ranger and archaeologist. The two would go canoeing in Alabama, where he would show her archaeological findings and she would study the clay.
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“I got hooked,” she said. “I’m not a real potter. I don’t have a ceramics background. I don’t know how to glaze or throw pots. ... I learned just through trial and error.”
What makes Beane’s art so special is that she uses the same open-flame techniques that ancient Native American tribes used to craft their pottery. Her work reflects the Lamar and Swiftcreek pottery traditions found across the Southeast.
Beane, 55, has since become one of the foremost authorities in the field, not only teaching classes on how the ancient pottery was made, but also making works that have been displayed in museums.
Beane is the featured artist in the ninth annual Fired Works Regional Ceramics Exhibition and Sale, which began April 26 in Central City Park. Besides displaying her pottery, she also will hold sessions to demonstrate her technique.
Beane will demonstrate her skills May 3 at a Fired Works event called “Ancient Secrets and Spirits,” which will be held from 7-9 p.m. at the Ocmulgee National Monument. In addition to her presentation, there also will be food, drinks and lantern tours.
Beane carries some impressive credentials. For nearly three decades, she has worked with institutions such as the University of North Carolina, the Museum of the Cherokee Indian in North Carolina and with the Choctaw Nation in Durant, Okla.
As part of her work, Beane has often been asked to re-create original pottery from shards found at archaeological digs.
This is not Beane’s first appearance in Macon. She’s been a frequent guest at the Ocmulgee Indian Celebration and has done work for the monument.
Superintendent Jim David said Beane has crafted reproductions for the monument’s education classes.
“When teachers take their classrooms here, we obviously can’t put real pottery out there for the kids to handle, so we’ve had her make reproductions,” he said.
“She makes really nice replicas. She’s a very good educator. She’s great with kids. She definitely has a different skill set.”
Given the midstate’s rich American Indian history, plus the clay that’s found in Middle Georgia, Beane said she enjoys her visits to Macon.
“Macon is a unique area,” she said. “It’s the epicenter for a lot of unique patterns.”
Jonathan Dye, spokesman for the Macon Arts Alliance, said hosting Beane provides Fired Works with an interesting new -- or rather old -- perspective.
“She’s definitely different than any artist we’ve had at Fired Works,” he said. “It’s something new and different. ... It shows the historical significance of the arts.
“She can show how things were done thousands of years ago to the artists at Fired Works. She’s basically the bridge to that.”
To contact writer Phillip Ramati, call 478-744-4334.