We are saddened to report that our friend Angela Fina died on Sunday, November 10 at her home in Amherst, MA after ten years of treatment for cancer. She was 76. Angela was a wonderful potter and an exceptional Penland instructor. She taught at the school fourteen times and once said, “Penland is my true heart’s home.”
Angela graduated with a degree in art education from Nazareth College of Rochester and then entered the community of the Sisters of St. Joseph of Rochester. During nine years as a nun she earned an MFA at the School for American Craftsmen at Rochester Institute of Technology. After leaving the convent, she taught for nine years at Sheridan College School of Craft and Design in Port Credit, Ontario. In 1977, she left her college teaching position to become a full-time potter, a pursuit she continued until the end of her life. She also continued teaching workshops at Penland, Brookfield Craft Center, and other schools.
She worked in high-temperature porcelain, specializing in deeply colored glazes. In addition to excellent tableware, she was known for her containers designed for ikebana flower arranging and other forms designed to meet the needs of flower arrangers. She sold her work at her studio, at major craft fairs, and at top craft galleries including the Penland Gallery. Angela was on the board of the National Council on Education for the Ceramic Arts (NCECA) and was made a lifetime fellow of that organization in 1984.
In the summer of 2012, a group of Angela’s friends decided to honor her career and her connection with Penland by creating a fund for improvements to the Penland clay studio. They set a goal of $10,000, and were able to raise $13,339, creating a living tribute that will benefit generations of Penland clay students.
Potter Julia Galloway published an excellent and matter-of-fact essay Angela wrote about what it means to be a self-supporting potter, which you can read here. Memorial gifts can be made to the Dakin Pioneer Valley Humane Society or to CERF, the Craft Emergency Relief Fund.
Here at Penland we will miss the gift of Angela’s teaching and her elegant work, but most of all, we will miss her gracious, loving presence, and her beautiful smile.