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Josh DeWeese has spent a lifetime working in clay, finding inspiration in his love of the throwing and firing processes. His ideas are rooted in utilitarian pottery and how the objects he creates interact with our daily lives:
“I’ve always been a sucker for the process, but the underlying theme is an interest in how those objects interact with our daily lives. The best example is a handmade cup. There’s something so simple about a cup. It drifts in and out of our focus, we sort of forget about it, and then are captured by its power as it returns to our consciousness. Cups are like our friends, a feeling most illuminated when our favorite one is broken. I feel continually challenged by the engineering of how a pot works. I’m interested in the character or personality, particularly with pouring vessels. They take on a personality. That thing with the spout and handle, becomes animated in a way.”
DeWeese uses a mix of regional clays to create classic, functional forms, but he’s always experimenting with glazes made with native materials , painterly application techniques and firing processes resulting in the other-worldly palettes only created in wood, salt and soda kilns. He was influenced by mid-century contemporary icons, like Pete Voulkos and Rudy Autio, and today champions the lessons they shared: the value of establishing a strong foundation of skill so one is equipped with the tools they need to find their own voice. The artist has influenced countless ceramic artists during his tenure as the the Director of the Archie Bray Foundation from 1992-2006, and now through his teaching role at Montana State University and, through workshops and lectures nationally.
First Friday, July 1st 2016
6:00 – 9:00 pm
In The Back Room
“Transitions” by Ruri
July 1 – 30
July 1st, 6:00 – 9:00 pm
“My current body of work reflects what’s been happening in my life and my state of mind in this moment. I believe that both our internal and external environments are always coming through in the things we do and create. The multi-layered processes are always happening at the same time, constantly overlapping and evolving from one stage to the next.
In the 37 years I’ve been working with clay, there have been two times where it has been very difficult for me to work in the studio:My mother’s passing was the first; I felt like I died at the same time. When I pulled myself out of the grieving stage, I wanted to create something based purely on my emotions, without giving thought to who or what I was creating for. This is how my clay sculpture started, even though the small changes had been happening way before that. I had been altering thrown forms, then adding coiling, and adding more and more hand built aspects to the original thrown forms. This evolved to just coiling from scratch to create forms. I attribute these big changes in my work to painful experiences and internal emotions.
The second event responsible for the shift in my work was an auto accident, which caused nerve pains to neck down to my right arm, hand and fingers. I could hardly move my right hand/arm from the pain, which made wedging, coiling, or any work using of my right side near impossible for a while. After 4 years, I have gradually started to try small pinched forms, and slab construction both soft and hard.
When I was unable to work in the studio, I turned my attention to projects to help promote Japanese clay artists after the devastating 2011 earthquake and consequent radiation damages. Through this exchange of experiences and organizing workshops, I learned a lot about slab construction and discovered new possibilities for me to try, to allow me to work with clay again.
Through all these transition stages, I also realized a long time goal of mine to build an anagama kiln. Most of my work is based on abstract forms, and this big change of firing made glazed work into yakishime yohen in anagama firing, where clay, flame and ash of burning wood, kiln atmosphere and artists’ spirit all come together to give a birth to a new life (work) without any application of glazes, slips, washes, etc.
I am looking forward to continuing my exploration of slab construction for a while until my nerve injuries heal. In this small exhibit, I share what I have been going through, and where I am heading.”