I’m showing a grouping of my clay specters at the Centennial Art Center in Nashville, TN as part of our regional biennial. I’d like to invite middle Tennessee art lovers to the opening Friday, August 1st, 5-7, to meet the artists. (I’ll be on the road and will miss this opening.)
I can go on and on (and I often do) about the saliency of our sense of touch. It goes beyond our fingertips. A cascade of interior responses follow our skin’s engagement with the world, and we so often ignore it. It is a radical act in the 21st century to attend to your senses and let that inform your values.
According to PBS, a recent German study shows that your skin and other organs have olfactory receptors which act in surprising ways to help the body stay in balance. What’s your favorite scent? How does it make you feel?
If you like to read, and you like to think, and you puzzle at the adversarial relationship between culture and commerce in these United States, please read this book. It fuels the fire in my heart to make my work, and to reconsider cultural conventions I’ve allowed to hold me back.
hey, is there any way i can buy something from this blog? is there any online shop??
This blog (fired earth) contains work by many brilliant ceramic artists from around the world. There is almost always a credit to the person, or else the originator of the image. With a bit of research you should be able to find the artist. Some are available at galleries, Etsy shops, or may be available direct from the artist. A very small portion of the work on this blog is made by me. I don’t have an Etsy shop, but I might be able to arrange sales of my work by post, or if you are in Sydney, you can see my work at a gallery here. Please make the effort to buy handmade ceramics. They are fabulous contemplation pieces, will give you a lifetime of beauty, and you will make a ceramic artist very happy as well.
“Just do your work. And if the world needs your work it will come and get you. And if it doesn’t, do your work anyway. You can have fantasies about having control over the world, but I know I can barely control my kitchen sink. That is the grace I’m given. Because when one can control things, one is limited to one’s own vision.”—Kiki Smith (via sircle)
I want us clay artists - sculptors, potters, non-definables - to make the very best work we’re capable of. I want us to value the strong work we do, and the failures that set the stage for the next discovery.
I want us to build community - we need each other, and we need to connect more with non-artists.
I want us to build awareness - those who do not make art can benefit from what we’re learning on the frontlines of creativity. They can find solace and inspiration in our work and insight in our innovative approaches.
I want us humans to remember our tactility, our infinitely nuanced senses, this neurological masterwork that immerses us in our natural, tactile, irrefutably 3-dimensional world. Those of us who work in clay have a great vantage point to work from when it comes to touch, heft, tooth, texture, curve, ring, thump, splat.
A full and prosperous new year for you all, divers!
Call for entry. Evanston Art Center, in the Chicago area, is a striking site for installation with its grounds overlooking Lake Michigan. The center has demonstrated a strong commitment to ceramic work in its long run of showing cutting edge sculpture. Worth a look.
ACAD’s School of Craft + Emerging Media welcomes applications for the following Permanent Faculty position commencing in the fall semester of the 2014-2015 academic year: Assistant Professor, Ceramics (Competition # 1314-DE-FP-27).
The successful candidate will be expected to teach, demonstrate an active research/studio practice, and contribute to the strategic plan of the College through engagement in administrative service.
Summary of Responsibilities - The successful candidate will: - Teach in all levels of the BFA and proposed MFA in Craft Media program, studio and lecture/seminar courses; - Contribute actively to curriculum development in the School ofCraft + Emerging Mediaand to the strategic initiatives of ACAD’s Research and Academic Affairs; - Maintain research/studio practice and contributions to research and scholarship in the field of contemporary craft, specifically ceramics; - Demonstrate a commitment to continuing pedagogical and academic excellence; - Provide service to the Faculty and College governance framework, including outreach activities that contribute to the academic life and profile of the College.
Qualifications - The successful candidate will: - Hold a minimum of a Masters level degree or an equivalent level of graduate education. - Have a minimum of five (5) years post-secondary teaching experience at the graduate and undergraduate levels (outside of graduate teaching assistantships) in studio, lecture, and seminar class formats. - Have a minimum of five (5) years of research/studio practice outside of post secondary education - Have a sound knowledge of ceramic technologies, methodologies, including wheel throwing, hand-building, mold-making and casting, clay and glaze technology, and knowledge of kiln firing technologies; - Have experience with digital object design and fabrication technologies; - Have experience teaching and working in interdisciplinary and trans-disciplinary contexts; - Have a comprehensive knowledge of Ceramics history, contemporary theory and discourse in ceramics practices; - Have a broad knowledge of history, theory and practice as it applies to Craft, Art and Design; - Have excellent communication, interpersonal, time management, and organizational skills; - Have social and theoretical understandings of technology, art and culture; - Have the ability to organize collaboration in studio production or research; - Have excellent communication, interpersonal and time management/organizational skills; - Be community-minded and team oriented.
Preference may be given to candidates with: - Ceramics studio management experience; - An active Studio Pottery practice.
Submission Instructions Please submit applications as per the instructions on our How To Apply webpage. In addition, include: artist statements outlining philosophies and practices regarding teaching and studio practice. Only applications submitted electronically will be considered. Please package all files as a single PDF document and do not submit as a “zip” or “Stuffit” compressed file.
I gave my students two assignments at the end of this fall session to work on over the break. One comes from one of my first ceramics teachers, Walter Hyleck:
Take your favorite pot from this semester and use it every day, at every meal for two weeks. Say it’s a mug: drink everything out of it. Sleep with it. Really use that mug and get to know it. My update on this assignment: first draw a sketch of it and list its best features and drawbacks, and after two weeks of use, draw it again and note what you know now that you didn’t before from using the pot. Take the DNA of this pot and sketch its descendant, the next pot you’ll make with your new awareness.
The other was for students who may not take another clay class soon. It also was a two week assignment:
Every night as you’re brushing your teeth before bed, ask yourself, “How have I engaged the world with my hands today?” (Typing on a keyboard doesn’t count.)
“Shape clay into a vessel;
It is the space within that makes it useful.
Cut doors and windows for a room;
It is the holes which make it useful.
Therefore benefit comes from what is there;
Usefulness from what is not there.”—Lao Tzu (via 7knotwind)
“Ido Tea Bowls: Treasured Possessions of Muromachi Daimyo,” currently showing at the Nezu Museum, presents an array of 72 rare tea bowls that were once owned by renowned warlords, tea masters and Buddhist temples. Produced by country potters in kilns in Korea’s South Kyungsang province, these bowls were originally for domestic use and became treasured by Japanese tea masters and Muromachi Period (1338-1573) warlords for their rustic simplicity and rarity. They came to play a pivotal role in Japanese history.”
Majolica is an ancient technique (going back to the Persians) which employs a full palette of watercolor-like brushwork on a thick white glaze, usually on a buff or red earthenware body. If you think of the gorgeous tile work of Mexico, Spain and Portugal or of lively Italian pitchers and platters, you are probably thinking of majolica.
Majolica has its own quirks and demands. I’ve worked with it for over twenty years and I’ll be sharing my know-how at Sarratt Art Studios Saturday, September 21st. We’ll supply bisqued tiles, glaze and stains and I’ll have handouts to help you explore majolica further in your own work. Bring your ideas, sketches and source materials, your favorite brushes if you have them, and be prepared to leap into a part of the ceramic world that offers brilliant colors.
[Images: Kessler, Linda Arbuckle, Spanish majolica, Mexican majolica, Posey Bacopolous]
Each day we slaughter our finest impulses. – Henry Miller
My work is a call to action. My search, in the dark, in the past, in the world, and in the mud, is for resonant forms and their negative spaces. These forms and spaces are made real and lasting through the agency of clay - the earthiest of materials – in order to engage the senses.
I use familiar but half-forgotten imagery to bypass easy recognition, inviting investigation and encounter. I make specters, clay specters, figures of loss, figures of promise and hope that fail to come to seed, ideas passed down over generations but tossed to the margins. They stand soundlessly. I make buds swollen and ready to burst and held in a freeze frame of fired clay, always on the brink of revealing themselves. These organic forms are stripped of surface or of color. The vibrant green each bud cries out for is displaced to the flat wall. They speak of growth but read as anthracite, living material so desaturated by time and pressure they can only lie buried or burn to ash.
I choose this dichotomy, this out-of-phase shift of surface to form, to draw an analogy to my larger concerns: our cultural false dichotomies of Humankind and Nature; Mind and Body; Life and Death. We hold these entities to be separate and antagonistic, and we wreak havoc with this belief. These all are the same abstraction played out in different arenas.
To believe in an intrinsic difference from all other life forms is to unhitch the tether tying us to the consequences of our exploitative actions. The mind has been made to pre-empt the body and death has been sequestered from its central role in life, a full-on abdication of the connection between our mortal selves and all other living things. With these abstractions we create a gulf. As we lose access to our senses and the sympathetic resonances our perceptions stir within us, we lose hope of drawing on wisdom deeper than the current ticker-tape mentality. We lose any counterweight to the widespread narrative of violence, overconsumption, and devastation of life. We lose our common senses.
I make the work from a spirit of commonality, so that I might give heart to others on the same search. It is possible to revive our birthright of infinitely nuanced senses and, in doing so, regain a grounded internal compass.