Colby-Sawyer College presents “Coming Home: The Ceramics of Vivika and Otto Heino,” an exhibition of 48 ceramics by internationally celebrated New Hampshire and California potters, from the collection of Forrest L. Merrill. The opening reception will be held Friday, Aug. 2, from 5 to 7 p.m. in the Center for Art + Design’s William H. and Sonja Carlson ’56 Davidow Fine Art Gallery. Following the reception, the exhibition remains open weekdays from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. through Tuesday, Oct. 15, and weekends by appointment.

Vivika Heino (1910–1995) and Otto Heino (1915–2009) emerged from a generation that strived to redefine the art of ceramics, revisiting Asian, European and American art and culture. In 1948, they met in Concord, N.H., at the League of New Hampshire Arts and Crafts (now known as the League of New Hampshire Craftsmen) where Vivika worked as a ceramics instructor and Otto studied as her student.

“Then [Otto] came by to see if I needed any help setting up my studio,” Vivika recalled in a 2005 interview. “After that, we were never apart.”

Vivika Heino (1910–1995) and Otto Heino
Vivika and Otto Heino in front of the kiln, Ojai, CA., 1995 (Bill Dow)

The couple married in 1950, beginning their life together in Hopkinton, N.H., moving later to Ojai, Cali. They threw clay every day, finding inspiration in Bernard Leach and Arts & Crafts movements from around the world, teaching at universities and winning awards, creating hundreds of pieces for Twenty Century Fox studios and showcasing their ceramics at over 200 exhibitions. Their works commemorated their companionship — from the beginning of their marriage, each Heino piece was signed “Vivika + Otto,” regardless of who made it.

Vivika chose to live as a potter because, “Once I’d touched it I never wanted to do anything else,” and Otto picked this path because, “I wanted to leave something so somebody would say —he was a good person — he knew what he was doing, he knew his material, what he was working in, and he contributed to something for the country he lived in.”

The Heinos’ passion and devotion resulted in a legacy of work that continues to inspire generations of artists. “Vivika and Otto infused fresh ideas and life into their work, and their world was guided by a strong work ethic and love of clay,” said Professor Jon Keenan. “They taught countless students and potters and helped redefine the language of American ceramics. This exhibition will help deepen students’ understanding of art, strengthen critical thinking and broaden life experiences.”

The exhibition was curated by Professor Jon Keenan, gallery director and Sonja C. Davidow ’56 endowed chair of Fine and Performing Arts, and was co-organized by Colby-Sawyer, Forrest L. Merrill, the Hopkinton Historical Society, and the League of N.H. Craftsmen, with support from friends of the Center for Art + Design. A full catalog of photographs and essays will accompany the exhibition’s opening reception with photographs of ceramics credited to M. Lee Fatherree and photos of the Heinos credited to Bill Dow.

For more information, contact Professor Jon Keenan at or 603.526.3667. The opening reception and exhibition are free and open to the public.