Michael LaRoche has been working with clay since 1990. He discovered pottery while studying for a Landscape Architecture degree from Virginia Tech. He became a registered landscape architect in 2001 and has continued designing landscapes and places since. Michael returned to pottery in 2005. His work reflects the influence of his landscape architecture knowledge.

Michael has participated in pottery workshops taught by Ellen Shankin, Hunt Prothro, Steven Hill, and others to better learn the skill and craft. With practice and self-learning, he started to find that intuitive feeling the clay has when things ‘click’. In 2008, he began teaching pottery and this helped advance his skills beyond a hobby. In 2011 Michael went back to his original instructor, Ellen Braaten, for a series of critiques and lessons proving very useful and inspiring to work harder and continue to improve.

Michael is a pottery instructor for the Blacksburg YMCA Pottery Studio and helped the Y design a new studio space in order to relocate its facility in 2009. After a few years of construction the new Pottery studio opened in 2011. He has continued teaching classes since re-opening, and now heads the studio as coordinator of classes, and manager.

Michael can be found chasing pottery ideas at the Y Studio where he continues to improve his practice, always in pursuit of lines and forms that cause visceral connections to spirit. Each piece he creates has a quality and attention to detail, hoping to give life to each piece. Michael has been a member of the Blue Ridge Potters Guild since 2012 and continues to participate in the annual show.

Artist Statement

I am inspired to continue exploring the curve and line found in clay and the natural and man-made world I dwell in. But most importantly, I am ecstatic to live a life of creating and making with my hands. I feel I am part of a much needed renaissance of working “by hand”. The art of making and creating tangible, functional, decorative things with my hands requires a surreal disconnect from the digital world. By being immersed in my art, making functional works with my hands I feel more focused and emotionally balanced in my life.

See my work in progress or take a class at the Y Studio.

The practice of pottery is carried on through teaching. Thus, I continue my pursuit of pottery while also passing along my knowledge of pottery to others. I teach beginner and intermediate pottery students at the Blacksburg YMCA pottery studio. As resident potter, one can find me creating these works at the YMCA pottery studio most days of the week. Come by and say hello or take a class!


YMCA Pottery Studio

This is the pottery studio I manage at the YMCA in Blacksburg, VA. This is also where I throw my wares.