I am a studio artist creating ceramic sculptural work, functional pottery and multi-media works on paper. I My independent research of wood fired kilns and pottery in the Midwest led to the co-opening in 1997 of Hook Pottery Paper in northwest Indiana with my wife, Andrea Peterson.
Wood fired ceramics is an intense and industrious process that emphasizes the use of local materials for firing as well as glaze making. Local plants such as hay, cattails, thistle, and clay are used in part to make glazes from ash or slip. This process reduces everything to an essence, making these works truly unique. I am a forerunner and expert in my field concerning sustainable and regenerative firing and ceramic studio processes. I received two consecutive Indiana State grants that aided my research of an oil drip burner system to assist my wood fired kiln and developed a series of ash glazes made from local plants collected from farms in the area.
I use high fire stoneware clays and make many of the glazes directly from the clay on our property and plant ash collected from farmers that are transitioning to organic. The connection to these farmers has given me a deeper understanding of the intricate web of life. When I collect thistle that is growing in a field of oats for instance, there is no need to use of any chemicals. The local plants become part of the ceramic work produced in this style of firing due to the magical alchemy involved in wood firing.
The sculptural ceramic works are about seeing nature through an experience – collecting and observing. Giving a voice to the time we breathe deeply, a profound moment is found as the earth looks back at us. Grasses lay down in fields after snow melts, reducing everything to an essence. The work connects to the place I live. The pieces explore the symbiotic relationships of plants in an imagined ephemeral state. I strive to understand the plant, soil structure, and life cycles from seed creation through growth to decay. I embody these profound life cycles within the works. The transformation of clay and ash in the wood fire kiln is a major step along the path to creating these works. The various wood and plants burned become part of the alchemy and magic of the way I have chosen to work. My studio methods are in line with the natural cycles of the environment. I employ regenerative design through out concept and process. A re-design of my wood fired kiln into an alternative firing system, which has a used fryer oil drip- system is an example. My technique of creating high temperature glazes from natural plant materials benefits environmental health and transparent beauty in dialogue with the waste stream system in our world today. The use of recycled plant oils in rural farming communities as bio-fuels has been well established for a number of years but it’s introduction into the ceramic educational art world is slow coming into the pedagogical education of young environmental artists. My dedication to eco-mutualism in the environment has evolved to center on a regional identity with a sense of place through the use of indigenous patterns of relationship with my community and the natural materials of the area where I live.
Works on Paper
CV on request