Chris Baskin

CHRIS BASKIN is a Portland, Oregon based potter who makes atmospherically fired ceramics for utilitarian, aesthetic and contemplative purposes.  

He completed a Master of Divinity degree at Southern Seminary in 1991 and a Master of Fine Arts degree at Alfred University in New York in 1995, and has taught at numerous universities including James Madison, University of Louisville, and Whitworth University. Chris worked as a resident artist at Archie Bray Foundation in Helena, Montana, and the Byrdcliffe Arts Colony in Woodstock, New York. In 2016 Chris was nominated for the Janet Mansfield Memorial Award, for his soda firing by the ( ICMEA) International Ceramic Magazine Editors Association.  He currently works at Mudshark Studios, and maintains a studio practice in Portland.

As an artist I speak about the worlds within and around me. I want my work to be accessible to everyone. Utility is a language that people the world over understand. Beauty is a way for me to connect across time and cultures.

Pottery has potential to both affirm and celebrate the physicality of being human (eating and drinking, seeing and touching) and to transcend while including the physical by expressing emotion and feeling, idea, and energy. Because of the nature of the ceramic process (taking formless material from the earth and defining form, structure, color, and texture), ceramics speaks about change and transformation.

Essential for me is to understand and know experientialy. This pertains to knowing true things about materials (clays, glazes, fires, and kilns) and processes (making, decorating, and firing), as well as the composition of meaning. I use clay from suppliers and recreate clay bodies from various traditions for their explicit qualities, but it is of tremendous importance to me to visit the mountain and dig some of my own clay as well. I identify with the natural processes that create; like the clay I am of this earth and have a long, long history.

Various atmospheric firing processes add particular character to my work. Wood firing and soda vapor firing each offer different color, texture, and surface possibilities, and bring to play distinct variables that create both risk and potential. To effectively engage the fire feels like getting to the place where the magic of transformation actually happens.

My work is informed by various ceramic traditions and viable for people's needs today. Pottery lends itself to my artistic vision. It provides an apt vessel to express my belief that beauty resides in the ordinary, the everyday, and the human. Making ceramics enables me to reach across categories and boundaries and to celebrate a common sense of humanity. This practice enables me to create meaning, value and beauty in my life and world.