In the forested hills above Guerneville sits the historic Pond Farm - a world renowned pottery studio and longtime home to one of the 20th century’s great potters.
Marguerite Wildenhain was a German Jewish potter, and the first female master potter in Germany. From the 1950's to the 1980's Wildenhain taught hundreds of America’s most talented pottery students at her rural home and studio in Sonoma County.
"Because of the war, she exiled to America at the invitation of a San Francisco couple named Gordon and Jane Herr, who had purchased a piece of property up in the Austin Creek State Recreation Area," Michele Luna said. "It wasn't that at the time, but that's what it is now, north of Armstrong Redwoods, and they wanted to start an artist collective there."
Luna is the former executive director of the nonprofit Stewards of the Coast and Redwoods, which helps maintain the Pond Farm studio.
The nonprofit has a new documentary out on Wildenhain’s life and time spent at Pond Farm.
"For a couple years they ran these workshops that disbanded, then Marguerite stayed on and for 30 years, she taught students during the summer what she learned at the Bauhaus and about how to live life in general," Luna said.
The film's director is David Washburn.
"This originally started as an oral history project, telling the story through the voices of...all these ceramicists around the country who traveled to Sonoma County to learn from Marguerite every summer," Washburn said. "They all had great stories to share."
He named one major production hurdle.
"What became a challenge is not so much finding people who, who were at Pond Farm and how they could recount their own stories," Washburn said. "It was really a challenge of finding Marguerite's own voice. She passed away in 1985."
"You know, as all good documentaries, if you can tell it in the person's own voice, it's stronger," Washburn said.
Marguerite Wildenhain: The Art and Nature of Pond Farm airs on KRCB-TV, Monday, March 13th, at 9 PM.