Aid to Artisans Elects New Board of Directors Chair

Aid to Artisans (ATA), a leading international nonprofit dedicated to economic development in the global artisan community, is pleased to announce the election of Eric O’Leary to its new Board of Directors Chair.

“I am honored to have been asked to serve as Board Chair at ATA, and daunted at this particular moment by the world financial crisis and its impact on artisans and their families around the world,” said Eric. “We must see that we speak powerfully to the issues that confront them whether they are lead toxicity, contaminated dye processes, design services, market training or the global economic crisis. My own life as a second-generation ceramic artisan, the struggles that birthed my studio and my long involvement with the lead-free partnership in Mexico has given me a passionate perspective about the work that ATA continues to accomplish in all the diverse parts of the world we work in.”

Eric is an internationally acclaimed artist who has worked in ceramics for more than 45 years. His Tariki Studio, founded in 1972, was passed down to him from his father who was also a master ceramics artist. Eric has served as board president of a non-governmental organization called the Sierra Madre Alliance, which is dedicated to protecting the rights of indigenous people in Northern Mexico who face drug trafficking, poverty, and loss of land rights. He is also a member of American Crafts Council and National Council on Education for Ceramic Arts. Eric’s work has been featured in acclaimed museums including the Smithsonian, Museum of Fine Arts, and American Crafts Gallery. He has lectured at Harvard University and has been written about in numerous publications including The Boston Globe, The Washington Post, and The New York Times.

Eric has always been especially intrigued by Mexican pottery and culture, and his involvement in ATA began 12 years ago in Mexico when he became a senior technical consultant for a project ATA initiated to remove lead from potters’ glazes. The non-governmental organization now called “Barro Sin Plomo” has removed toxic lead from more than 500 potters in Michoacán, and aims to expand its reach to many other regions of the country as well as the world that face serious medical problems due to lead exposure.

“We are extremely excited about Eric’s appointment. His extensive knowledge about ATA combined with his vast experience working as a ceramic artist and designer will be invaluable to us in our mission to help build economic opportunities for artisans around the world,” said David O’Connor, ATA President.