An outsider art studio that created a piece of work so popular they had to turn mainstream.
Take all the natural beauty of the Ozark Mountains, throw in some imaginative hippie artists and a touch of magic, and you have Terra Studios, a nature and art oasis just outside the growing city of Fayetteville, Arkansas.
In 1975, Leo and Rita Ward founded Terra Studios as a glass and pottery studio which would be open to the public. Both were accomplished artists, Leo as a master glass craftsman, and Rita as a potter and sculptor. After eight years providing empowering art lessons, Leo created Terra’s signature piece: the “Bluebird of Happiness.” These small, hand-molded glass birds quickly became too popular for the mail-order business they were originally available through, and the Studios expanded to include many more artists and permanent galleries in order to handle the soaring volume of business.
In 2007, the Wards retired to more private artistic pursuits, and Terra passed to its current owner. After producing over 8 million Bluebirds, no part of the property has been left untouched by art. Even the trash cans are trolls with gaping mouths to gobble up your refuse. There is a labyrinth of standing stones, a lovely cafe next to a pond, and more gnomes, trolls and fairies than you can count. There is also the the dim Garden of Otis Zark through which visitors can reach the centerpiece of the collection, the Wizard’s Chair, which is made of formed clay and magnificently lit colored glass.
Many artists still reside on the property, and art is in constant production. You can watch the glass craftsmen make Bluebirds in the gallery, pottery classes are available, and local musicians play in the cafe on weekends. Terra is a wonderful place to relax and take in the natural beauty, surrounded by the clay and glass flights of creative fancy Ozark folk artists are known for.
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