Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Historical Influences

"Feather Bowl" by Maria and Julian Martinez

In creating an application for History in the Making II, a National juried pottery exhibition, I was forced to think about my historical influences; what inspired me to make the forms I do and the methods that I use to make and finish them. My thoughts fell to the first potter that I was introduced to in my first college ceramic class. I remember watching a very old documentary about a Native American potter named Maria Martinez and being simply amazed at what she was able to accomplish with such limited tools. I have since watched that same video several more times and studied her work more extensively. She has been a major inspiration in my current "Personality Pot" series, though our forms and finishes couldn't be more different.

Maria Martinez’s (1887-1980) handbuilt pottery began with a slab of clay placed in a puki, or bowl-shaped form used to support the base of the pot. My personality pots are likewise started with a slab of clay laid in a puki. However, instead of building up from the puki with coils as traditionally done, I take two slabs formed in identical pukis and attach them together. I then cut and alter the form to make feet and add coils and slabs for a neck and head.

Maria Martinez used tightly controlled outdoor firings to create her beautiful, simplistic black on black ware. More can be read about her firing techniques at the Museum of New Mexico's Site. Learning about her methods, I became intrigued with the idea of finishing vessels with nothing more than an open fire. Rather than meticulous control for specific color, I encourage spontaneity in my firings by stacking pots loosely and sprinkling on several organics, metals, and salts.

"Remy the Personality Pot" by Tara Robertson