Hope Thomas

Hope Thomas holding three mugs she made
Professional artist, business owner

Bachelor of Fine Arts in Art, ceramics concentration, UNC Charlotte (1997)

Hometown: Charlotte

On June 16, 2022, Chancellor Sharon Gaber presented a special gift to Bank of America in gratitude for the Bank’s investment of $2.5 million to the University: three beautiful pieces of pottery by art alumna Hope Thomas. A Charlotte native, Hope graduated in 1997 and established her business, Riverstone Pottery, from her current home in Lake Wiley.

Along with each ceramic piece given to Bank of America was this dedication:

“In recognition of Bank of America’s indelible impact and commitment to expand the University’s signature bridge program for historically underrepresented students and support the creation of a Community Innovation Incubator, UNC Charlotte presents this stoneware piece by Hope Thomas ‘97. Hope’s Riverstone Pottery illustrates the iconic meaning of transformation and the concept of gratitude.”

Describe your current career.
I am a potter/ceramic artist, and I run a small business making and selling all my work from my website monthly. I guess I'd say my most important accomplishment is selling out of everything I make for my shop every month and fully supporting myself financially through my artistry. 

How did your education at UNC Charlotte prepare/shape you? What are some of the key things you learned?
My education at UNC Charlotte gave me such a great foundation for my career as a freelance self-employed artist. My instructors made sure I was ready to face the real world and made me aware of all my options I had as a graduate. I was quickly able to set up my own studio and begin making a significant income from the work I was putting out into the world. 

Do you have any particularly special memories of your educational experiences – something that stands out as being especially fun or meaningful?
My experience as an art student was so fulfilling and helped me grow so much from adolescence into adulthood. I loved being a full-time art student and being fully immersed in all the art media classes from painting to photography to jewelry and of course ceramics. The whole department (instructors and students) felt like family to me. It's a time in my life I have often looked back on with a longing to relive those years. 

What advice do you have for current art students?
My advice is to pace yourself and try not to compare your work to others. It's so easy to want to jump ahead 10 steps to be where your competitors are, but each and every step is an important part of the whole process. Slow and steady will get you where you want to be much quicker than speedy and in a hurry. There are rarely short cuts to high quality work.