Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Kilns, bricks, bark and sticks

July has proven to be an extremely busy. Several of the residents and I have been constructing a shed to protect the anagama from the torrential downpours of central Virginia. The project has been our main focus this past week and has just been finished in time for the first firing of our new anagama.

As of today we started loading the rear end of the kiln with greenware to ensure a nice slow firing. Loading will continue tomorrow morning and when it is finished we will begin preheating the kiln with propane to slowly cure the castable arch. This is such an interesting point in the making process. My tools have been dry for quite some time and all of my thoughts and time outside of working on the kiln shed have been put into glazing, thinking, and wood splitting. About six cords of oak and pine have been split and dried for a few weeks.

I began teaching youth art classes at the Academy of Fine Art in Lynchburg. The 40 minute drive has given me a great chance to reflect and think and otherwise it has been wonderful being able to work with a really great group of kids again. So much energy, excitement and curiosity in these Virginia youngins. I've been trying to arrive early to give myself ample time to explore the city and its splendid architecture. Time has truly done wonderful things to the structures of downtown Lynchburg and it has opened my eyes to the effects of natural phenomena on man made objects. My experiences in town have inspired a new potential body of work which I think will require a huge amount of time, thought and experimentation.

Such an interesting arrangement in a simple pile of architectural materials. These make me think of a sense of stillness, waiting, and disuse. Time passes and becomes visible in the unused materials of our lives which form similar 'piles.'

There's something haunting about bricked up doors and windows. In forms such as this the previous function is erased while the reminder of its former presence remains known and arguably transcended by the act of filling in or erasing. Again, these make me think of time passing and objects becoming neglected while referencing a sense of transformation in appearance.

The natural erosion of these brick walls is truly inspiring in that it draws attention to the impact of natural phenomena of wear and decomposition on man made objects. This reminds us of our presence in the larger spectrum of the natural world and reinforces our understanding of the transience of our presence as well as the transience of the things we make. This sense of erosion creates beautiful textures and compositions incapable of being recreated by the human hand. It's almost as if man and nature worked in collaboration to create an expression of the balance between transience and permanence.

The poor craftsmanship of the bricks and mortor in the second example do give the wall a wonderful unique quality. I love the subtle nuances of irregularity of these bricks and how that has influenced the method with which they were irregularly stacked.