With a career as a potter for three decades, a local woman has put out beautiful works of art, but a recent life changing event encouraged her to pause and help a charity close to her heart.
Old photographs show a mom and daughter. A daughter with her life's dreams ahead of her. A mother who supported every single one. Lisa Kurtz grew up in Louisville, Kentucky, and her dream was to become an artist. In college at the University of Louisville, she decided to enroll in a pottery class.
"I was just hooked on clay. Clay is just so fun, just everything about it. Well, it was for me. I just fell in love with everything about it," says Kurtz.
And so she pursued a masters in ceramics and a career in pottery.
"My pottery is named Highland Pottery because I lived in 20 different apartments in the Highland area of Louisville which is a really artsy, eclectic neighborhood," says Kurtz. She started building her business through art shows and galleries all over the country. They eventually moved here to Knoxville and she had already built up quite a clientele so she continued to create and ship new pieces.
During this time, Lisa and her husband had three kids and when her youngest went to kindergarten, Lisa really started focusing on making a local impact. And she did. She's had a thriving career for 36 years, but it has not come without challenges. Seven years ago her mom was diagnosed with Alzheimer's Disease.
"It's been a really stressful thing for the whole family. My mom doesn't even recognize me anymore," says Lisa.
And last year, Lisa found out she, herself, had a brain tumor.
"It was pretty big. It was the size of a tennis ball so it was pressing on my motor sensory line," says Lisa.
It was life changing.
"When you have something really scary like that happen to you, I was like, okay, I don't know how much time I have left and what I'm going to be able to do," says Lisa.
And she was inspired by not only her life's work, but by her mother, to do something after her surgery.
"I was having symptoms that were very similar to what my mom was going through when she first had Alzheimer's," says Lisa. "It just reinforced to me that I needed to do something for Alzheimer's."
Lisa is now showcasing 36 years of pottery and raising money for Alzheimer's Tennessee, something she says would make her mom proud.
"She would be thrilled and I think she would be very excited that I'm doing it in her honor," says Lisa. "It's been hard and it was hard going through my surgery and not having my mom."
Lisa's surgery in February was successful. Her show will now happen as planned and her heart and soul will be on display in honor of her mom, Mary Angela Guarneschelli Kurtz.
"It has helped me. Having this to work towards and knowing it could help somebody else with the disease," says Lisa.
One of Your Stories. There's no place like this one.
Lisa's show is Friday, August 30th at The District Gallery in Bearden from 5:30 to 9:00. Her work will be on display for most of September and all proceeds go