In Japan, where pottery is an integral part of the culture, firing in a wood-burning kiln is practiced as a time-honored tradition. "Into the Woods," a Fiery Tale is aligned with the current enthusiasm for wood-fired ceramics in the United States. The exhibit will present work by seven noted ceramicists who specialize in this technique, including Fred Olsen, Peter Callas, Jeff Shapiro, Chris Gustin, Takao Okazaki, Catharine Hiersoux, and John Balistreri.
Whereas many potters depend on the form, construction, surface treatment, or glaze as means to create significant, individual expression, wood-fire ceramicists are rely on the kiln as their primary tool. "Into the Woods," a Fiery Tale will delve into the wood-fire process, its strategies and variations. The pieces shown will exhibit many of the possibilities achievable through use of this technique. Secondly, the exhibition will explore the aesthetic required to appreciate wood-fired ceramics, both from the ancient Japanese point of view which honors beauty as found in nature, and from the newly-evolved American position. The fascination for these seven ceramic artists lies in the challenge of harnessing the elusive and recreating the unexplainable. Yet, at the same time, it is the surprise element and the unpredictability that sustains their passion.
The beauty of wood-fired ceramics lies in subtlety, abstraction, asymmetry, and imperfection. The pieces are marked by the flame, colored by the kiln atmosphere, christened by ash deposits, and freckled by erupting impurities. There are teabowls, bottles and plates, bowl and gourd shapes, cylinders and slab-built columns, and sculptural forms of all shapes and sizes. The common element among all the pieces is a meditative, spiritual quality that compels the viewer to pause, examine, and reflect on the uncommon beauty of the works.