After 30 years of individual tutoring by Dean Schwarz in his private studio, Dean has handed the baton to resident Master Lane Schwarz and South Bear School is starting anew from a seed planted long ago. The summer of 2022, South Bear offered two weeks of pottery workshops, where we welcomed alumni and new students into the Wheel of Summer Studio. We were happy to see all of our original kickwheels and several electric wheels in use at the same time by new and returning students! We are looking forward to the summer of 2023; several new students have already made committments to attend, and we look forward to hearing from other prospective students over the next few months. If you are interested in attending, or would like to stay up to date on events, please contact us.    

We are an artist collective based in Decorah, Iowa, deeply influenced by the Bauhaus movement. Co-founder Dean Schwarz, a student of Bauhaus potter Marguerite Wildenhain, started South Bear School in 1970 in Highlandville, Iowa. Pottery, painting, and poetry were the main art forms taught at the school, but other subjects like spinning and weaving, drawing, watercolor, and women's studies have been offered in the past. 

Our central philosophy is to teach through demonstration and critique. Building basic foundations through repeated demonstration and practice solidifies technique, and critique challenges one's preconceived notions of art and work. "There is no such thing as inspiration unless it grows out of hard work, and some of us will be 'inspired.' Along with being serious, we also have fun." - Dean Schwarz 

South Bear School calls back to traditional methods of art-making; with pottery, for example, we focus on throwing with the kickwheel. The structure of our wheels are based on kickwheels designed by Marguerite Wildenhain, which were then built by Orville Running and Dean Schwarz. The structure of our learning process is based on the techniques adopted by the Bauhaus from the artisanal Guild system in Germany. These are reminders of a long age of potters and artists who built their own artisanal apparatuses with the specifics of their craft in mind, and taught their apprentices with the interest of creating masterful work. These structures have been passed from the Guilds, to the Bauhaus, to Pond Farm, and now to South Bear School. 

We invite you to join us as we continue this tradition and reopen our doors for the 2023 summer session.

Applicants will be reviewed on a case-by-case basis. The final selection of students will be at the discretion of our staff.

Equal Opportunity:

It is the policy of South Bear School to provide equal opportunity for all qualified persons in the educational programs and activities which the school operates. In full and affirmative compliance with the laws of the United States and of the State of Iowa and all applicable regulations thereto, our school does not discriminate on the basis of race, creed, color, religion, national origin, age, or sex in the educational programs or activities which it operates.