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Founder of ceramics program dies
July 27, 1998

Minnie Negoro, a professor of ceramic arts at UConn from 1965 to 1989, has died after a long illness. She was 79.

During her years at UConn, Negoro created the ceramics major within the fine arts department and set up a pottery studio in the basement of the William Benton Museum of Art.

"She was a fine potter with a sort of underground international reputation" says Stephanie Terenzio, retired former assistant director and curator of 20th century art at the Benton Museum, who was a close friend of Negoro. "She was a fine teacher, especially for those students who were serious," Terenzio says.

Negoro, who died May 1 at her home on Masons Island in Mystic, held exhibits of her work in Paris and Peru. She also exhibited at the Museum of Modern Art in New York, the Smithsonian Institution, the DeCordova Museum in Lincoln, Mass., the Lyman Allyn Art Museum in New London, and the Benton Museum. In 1992, the Benton Museum held a retrospective of her work.

Born in 1919, she grew up in Southern California. Because of their Japanese ancestry, Negoro and her parents were interned by the government during World War II in a labor camp in Wyoming. She was able to leave the camp through the help of Daniel Rhodes, one of the first men to receive a fine arts degree from New York State College of Ceramics in Alfred, N.Y. Rhodes had been sent by the government to the camp to start a factory producing ceramic tableware for U.S. troops. He introduced Negoro to ceramics during the year he was there and remained her mentor and friend until his death in 1989.

With Rhodes' encouragement, Negoro also went to Alfred, the premier school in the field, and earned her master's degree there in 1950. She also graduated from UCLA.

In addition to her talents as a potter, Negoro was an accomplished cook, particularly in the Japanese tradition, and a keen gardener. "Most things she did, she did to perfection," Terenzio says.

Contributions may be made to a scholarship fund set up by the art department in her memory, and may be sent in care of Maureen Lamb, 31 Al Harvey Road, Stonington, CT 06378.

Elizabeth Omara-Otunnu