My first art teacher was my mother, Karen Oliver. She is the person who really taught me how to draw — how to look at something and observe the details — to simply draw what you see.
In high school I developed my skills by taking every art and creative class my school offered. After graduation, I continued my studies at Northern Virginia Community College where I studied drawing, design, and portraiture. I had some great teachers including Tim Davis and Charlotte Turner.
After transferring to James Madison University, I furthered my studies with classes in education, art history, sculpture, figure drawing, painting, and of course, ceramics.
When I discovered ceramics, it was love at first throw. I was lucky enough to have two wonderful teachers, Masako Miata and Jerry Gess. I later apprenticed with Scott Supraner of Hawksbill Pottery. With Scott, I learned to wedge, slab build and throw with greater skill.
In 1997 I moved to Georgia with my husband, Jamie Hochmuth. I found a position as a pottery lab assistant at the Gwinnet Civic Center where I continued to hone my skills as a ceramicist. At this great studio, I learned Raku from Mike Gernes and Vicki Paulet.
My husband and I returned to Virginia in 2000 where I opened my first business, Amy O Pottery. In 2001 we moved to western Loudoun County to purchase and keep in the family “Freeman’s Store”, an old general store owned by my grandmother, Frances Oliver, and her father, George Freeman, before that. My great grandfather once had a zoo with monkeys and other animals on the property. Freeman’s Store, located in the village of Bloomfield, is nicknamed Monkeytown because of this zoo.
We turned the store into a pottery studio and “Monkeytown Pottery” was born.
At this time I started teaching individual students and showing my work at area craft shows.
In 2005 I started teaching intermediate ceramics classes at the Round Hill Art Center and became their studio manager.
In 2009, I left Round Hill Arts center to teach full time at my studio at Monkeytown Pottery.
Today, Monkeytown Pottery classes are going strong, with several offered per week. I attend the local craft shows to display my work as well as host two open studio sales a year.