April 16, 2008

A Visit with Erik and Luba

Last week I stopped in to visit Erik and Luba of Mudfire. It was a beautiful Spring day and the sun filled studio was a bustle of budding potters. I was there to drop off pots for the "American Masters" show coming next month. Luba was busy helping her students...

and Erik took me to see the current show, Color and Line in the gallery.

Her's what Erik and Luba wrote about the show"Color and Line" which I thought was very eloquent...

About the Show

Each of these artists speaks with a unique color sensibility and character of line to tell a different tale, resulting in an exhibit richly informed by the sprawling aggregate of their experiences. As a whole, the group tends toward a mark-making minimalism and intermittent blocks of vibrant color, leaving space for the form itself to add to the narrative.

Courtney Martin's life in the Appalachian woods is reflected in soothing greens and browns and the soft flowing lines of her daily landscape. Diana Fayt's San Francisco studio inspires cool deco colors, jagged city lines, a bold sparseness, and bits of floral and insect motifs. Kelly Sullivan's background in printmaking reflects consistency and precision of line, as well as intentional subtle variations between each edition. For Julia Galloway, color has a semiotic role of triggering associations with other things - nostalgia for nature in an urban cityscape. Liz Zlot Summerfield's diminuitive focus yields small treasures with layers of texture and playful alternation between matte and reflective surfaces.

The goal of the ceramic artist is to create a compelling surface that reinforces and draws from the form, without simply covering it. The process begins with three dimensional design with an eye toward eventual embellishments. The canvas's creation itself presents not only aesthetic but technical decisions. Mineral oxides, glass formers, fluxes, and refractory materials are blended to achieve the desired effect. Like the master painters of old, the artist must also source and process materials to craft their pigments - stains, glazes, terra sigillatta, lusters, overglaze, and other studio arcana. At the end the work is ready for a magical transformation as the intense heat of the kiln plays its own tricks and wizardry, boldy claiming for itself the rights to the final appearance.

To paint on clay is to be equal parts alchemist, technician, gambler, and artist. The artists selected for this exhibition collectively express the stunning diversity and vitality that clay is capable of as canvas.

Here are beautiful pots from the show of Julia Galloway's which I think exemplify the masterful use of color and line.

Their fully equipped studios, kilns, and beautiful gallery, made me want to get busy with some clay and make a few pots. It is a dream studio and I'm sure inspires all who take classes there. I hope you can visit the gallery sometime if you're in the neighborhood of Atlanta, GA or even take one of their classes.

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