Wednesday, December 21, 2011


We built the hills

to break the space

between earth

and the Gods


Abnormalities

in the horizon,

leveled by hope

and fear in the unknown.


Upon them we placed

our homes

from which

we watched the sun

scale the peaks

of distant mountains.


We adorned our walls

with stars

plucked from the sky

and hung mirrors

in which we observed

their glittering reflections

in our eyes.


We created the clock

to relieve us from the

golden brightness

at the day's end.


We sought refuge in

our likeness to

the flower,

finding our growth

most similar

to the unfolding

of petals,


yet we closed our eyes

once seeing

our true selves

in the decay of

abandoned buildings,


walls warped

shifting from chrome

to rust

space changing

forming a distant memory

whose life progresses

not through growth

but erosion.

Slowly


living through time.




Completion

The mythical pursuit of quiet time spent reflecting on ideas and time is an unending ambition of mine. Lately I have been less than successful in establishing such time with demands of social responsibilities, firing kilns, and attempting to photograph and market my work pressing down upon me. Yet, as with all sources of inspiration, working with active intentions of creating something 'great' can result in disappointment. It is only when the conditions present themselves as being appropriate that we may find what is sought. This is my current moment.

Hiding in the grass,
The moment at which
place and time close
their eyes
and
exhale,

creating the breeze
at a cycle's end.
Tall stalks,
swaying.









Friday, November 4, 2011

Anagama - Fall 2011


Brick - Pure Native Red Clay with Sawdust
Wood Fired to cone 12


Brick - Pure Native Red Clay
Wood Fired to Cone 12



Yunomi
Thrown native white clay
Shino Glazed Interior
Wood Fired to Cone 12

Sipping Cup
Native Red Clay
Wood Fired to Cone 12


Yunomi
Thrown Native White Clay
Wood Fired to Cone 12


Cylinder
Thrown Native Red Clay
Wood Fired to Cone 12


Urn
Coil Built Native Clay
Wood Fired to cone 12


Slab Vessel
Native Clay
Wood Fired to Cone 12


Small Urn
Coil Built Native Clay
Wood Fired to Cone 12


Coffee Mug
Thrown Native Red Clay
Wood Fired to Cone 12

New Works on Paper

I'm taking the initiative to perpetuate the cycle of studio life that I've been seeking and in many ways missing out on. The recent lack of residents and short time between wood firings has left me producing work without having the time to really sit back and reflect. The feeling of the body moving faster than the mind is hitting me. So, now that the bisque kiln is loaded and no more work is being produced I'm taking the time to do some more reflecting, drawing, and (hopefully) reading. I've converted one of the unused resident rooms into a drawing studio to make working in the evening easier.

Back at Coe College I was doing some very exciting collages with found materials inspired by the work and lessons of my professor, Priscilla Steele. The notion of using found materials with diaristic intentions was very fulfilling to me at that point in my life - having collected worn papers and odd materials since New York. The ability to finally put them to use resulted in a large body of work which flourished along side my senior exhibition in clay. It was in many ways a mutual relationship. Although each served unrelated compositional ideas they both thrived on the excitement of responding to the natural qualities or one's materials. My intentions with both paper and clay work were to create an object which speaks uninhibitedly of these qualities.

However, I've been having problems continuing this working process out here due to studio demands. I've taken this opportunity of freedom to start a series of works with found papers inspired by the drawings my younger brother, Ben and I created as kids. Titled 'Battles,' this collage series relates to the scenes of warriors, machines, weapons and environments of our childhood. My intent is not to directly depict or recreate these scenes so much as it is to relate to the memories of hours spent as kids carefully assembling guns, heros, and machines with great excitement. I enjoy the childlike compositional freedom of these pieces as amorphous forms, lines and marks come to exist in tension with their surroundings – occasionally the figures fit within the landscape, but more often exist with no relationship to the space of the page or each other.

The concept of struggle is something which has always occurred in my working process – whether it be with composition, form, surface, etc. However it has never freely come to the surface. Many of the 'Battles' collages come to be as a result of a struggle with process. The constant search for a relationship between compositional elements which speak freely of found and torn papers dictates their existence. A piece begins with the construction of two small collages, which over time grow, evolve, become changed or destroyed. An interest in the balance between geometry and the non linearity of worn papers results in the creation of distinct lines, angles, and rigid shapes within each piece. Eventually the two collages struggle (hence the fitting term of the series) to become one. Their connection is dictated by the matching of lines, angles, and forms which before were unrelated. The result is a finished piece whose composition reflects this struggle with process.




more to come..

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Oct

I will have new updates soon about recent firings and all other goings on at Cub Creek this fall.

In the meantime, here is a tasty cup from the recent anagama firing



New pots on Etsy as well.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

September 4th



The sun of summer sets before the work is done. I've lived by the notion of there not being enough hours in the day the past month. Ware shelves are filling up in preparation for the second firing our our anagama as well as the annual firing of Randy Edmonson's massive (and beautifully crafted) anagama in Farmville, VA. Aside from being one of the founders of Cub Creek, Randy is a professor of fine art at Longwood University in Farmville and a working artist. I've been lucky enough to earn space in his kiln by helping chop wood for the 5 day firing later this fall.

Spending time at his property has also left me with plenty of time to page through his extensive library of clay and other art related books. Somebody once told me of the dangers of looking at too much work by artists you admire. One seems to... appropriate certain aesthetics. At the same time I think it's very valuable to create work which fits into the context of one's time and surroundings.

Surely the realm of ceramics is no exception. My focus on the infinite permutations of the vessel have led me in numerous directions. Quite troublesome for writing artist statements, but good for working out many ideas at once.

I'm quite happy with the production work I've been doing. This arose out of a desire to discipline my throwing skills and work on a body which would be more likely to sell than conceptual wood fired wares. This body of work is made from a local red clay body in which I left many of the silica stones as a way to let the qualities of the natural clay speak freely. I created a slip out of the native white and applied it to the leather hard pots. Following this I have been doing brush work inspired by hakeme (stiff brush) work using brushes created from dried grasses from the field behind the studio. I really enjoy the process of this body and find that it really speaks of my location.



bone dry pots drying in the sun


small plate
native red clay, native white slip, clear glaze
gas fired


small plate
native red, native white slip, clear glaze
gas fired


bowls
native red, native white slip, clear glazed
gas fired

coffee mug

native red, native white slip, clear glaze

gas fired


My wood fired works are divided into functional work and abstract vessels. The functional work is moving along nicely as I continue to get used to the qualities of the rough clay. Most of this body consists of cups (I'll be applying to quite a few cup exhibitions this fall,) plates and vases.





I'm very excited about the non functional bodies of wood fired work I'm currently working on. Cylindrical vases provide for a simple form upon which the fire will impart many of its unique qualities. I've also been trying to work on coil built jars. However, the native clays are not very plastic and therefore difficult to hand build. I have had a few survivors:


I've been fascinated by an abstraction of form I'm working through. These vessels are inspired the undulations in the lips of tea bowls and other loosely thrown forms as well as the drawings I've been doing of such forms. Drawings limit the way viewers perceive the form due to their 2-dimensionality. When one looks at a drawing of a bowl or vase they only perceive the contour. For all they know the round shape could be squashed. I've taken this idea and created some vessels which approach this quality of undulation.

I'm also fascinated by the way they contain both the physical space and the viewers eye in a way which prevents either from easily escaping – almost like a cave whose volume expands past the entrance. The space enters these forms and encounters turbulence due to the curled lip. In the same way the eye is drawn into these forms but isnt able to easily escape with any sort of natural flow or gesture.

A fascinating concept – a mysterious space which you can be aware of, but not fully interpret.










All of my work currently revolves around the idea of using ceramics as a means of understanding the effect of natural phenomena on man made objects. However, One can never truly 'study' these effects when certain aesthetic demands are put on each piece. The notion of form, surface, volume, and function take priority in most forms and overpower the way the object interacts with the fire.

With this in mind I've created some forms based on the concept of the brick or the block. These forms are created without any intentions of giving them a voice. Most have been made by pressing clay mixed with sawdust into or against molds. These forms speak of no gesture and contain no mark making like most of my work. I'm hoping that this 'blank slate' will best allow for the objects to be transcended by the fire and ash. I'm excited to see how they turn out.



My interest in collage continues to work its way into my schedule. I've been creating some small and large scale pieces with found materials. These are always a great way to reaffirm my ideas about letting material dictate form and surface. They offer a good break from working in clay and demand a little bit more of an eye for geometry and composition.




Aside from my own work, Cub Creek has been busy since my last update. Residents Tim Ayers and Ron Shaw have departed. Lane Kaufmann and his wife Mandi arrived earlier this month along with Mandy Stigant who recently graduated from USU with her MFA. It's been such a pleasure having them around. Both are great individuals with good heads and hearts. Lane's experience as an assistant to Dick Lehman has opened doors for many conversations about his work and ideas.



I am now the proud owner of www.mitchiburg.com. Please check it out for photos and any other updates.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Anagama firing - Summer 2011


*A note on bricks*

I began investigating the form of the brick after spending lots of time looking at old brick structures in Lynchburg, VA and in rural Appomattox. I'm amazed by the primal nature of both the brick and vessel as a symbol for clay. Both utilitarian clay vessels and ceramic architectural elements played such a large role in the evolution of the human race in their ability to improve the quality of life. Vessels allowed for water and seeds to be stored which aided the production of crops. Similarly, ceramic architecture provided protection from the elements and animals. Both evolved along with the human race into very significant objects.
Today, the ceramic vessel has reached such a popularity as an art object that it may be taken out of the utilitarian context (literally out of the kitchen) and placed on a pedestal in a gallery where it only references function. Such vessels are successful in their existence as an artfully created object. However, the brick - occupying a similar significance to the human race, has failed to reach such aesthetic levels.

These bricks are created using a simple frame into which clay is pressed. I seek to maintain a similar approach to the clay when I am throwing on the wheel or handbuilding - always working with a sensitivity towards the clay's ability to dictate form and surface. In creating these bricks I am seeking to understand if such an object is capable of reaching such success when taken out of utilitarian context.




Brick
press molded local red stoneware
wood fired to cone 12
all natural ash glaze


Brick
press molded local red stoneware
wood fired to cone 12
all natural ash glaze


Brick
press molded local white stoneware
wood fired to cone 12
all natural ash glaze


Whiskey Cup
Local white stoneware
wood fired to cone 12
all natural ash glaze

Whiskey Cup
local white stoneware
wood fired to cone 12
all natural ash glaze


Whisky Cup
Local red stoneware
Wood fired to cone 12
All natural ash glaze

Whisky Cup
Local red stoneware
Wood fired to cone 12
All natural ash glaze


*I find this form, or rather the series of these small cups as a whole, to be some of the most successful pieces of the firing. These small cups were thrown off of one large mound with on a very slow spinning wheel - resulting in a natural irregularity in each piece. Literally, these small cups form the negative space between one's hands while working on the wheel. For this reason I find them to be the most intimate and hard to put down. Furthermore, I'm inspired by the way the process (working at a slow speed) results in objects which defy any sense of preconceived form. Rather, they exist almost as objects of the moment, related only by their being created at the same time, mound of clay, and from the same hands.


Whiskey Cup
Local red stoneware
Wood fired to cone 12
All natural ash glaze


Large Jar
Coil built local red stoneware
wood fired to cone 12
All natural ash glaze


Cylinder
Coil built local red stoneware
Wood fired to cone 12
All natural ash glaze


Tea bowl
Handbuilt local white stoneware
Wood fired to cone 12
All natural ash glaze


Small plate
local red stoneware, local white slip
wood fired to cone 12
all natural ash glaze


Teapot
Handbuilt stoneware
wood fired to cone 12
all natural ash glaze



Vessel
Coil built local red stoneware
wood fired to cone 12
all natural ash glaze

*My intention in creating this vessel was to investigate the essence of volume. In gently forming an inverse lip I sought to further contain the negative space within the form. I find something almost haunting in the darkness of this piece, especially in its reference to caves - almost as if the viewer needs a lantern to explore the volume.


Vase
local red stoneware
wood fired to cone 12
all natural ash glaze