Simon LevinGresham, Wisconsin

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I make wood fired utilitarian pottery. Behind the creation of these vessels are several driving philosophies. These philosophies guide all aspects of my work. I believe in making pots for everyday use, that work well for the functions intended. My work is made in harmony with the choice of firing method. Firing with wood has several inherent qualities. These kilns have a distinct wind and directionality to them. The pots I make are made of clay bodies that are reactive to variations in temperature and atmosphere. The wood produces ash, which lands on the pots and melts, forming a naturally occurring glaze. The structural qualities of the pots, in form and texture, are made to catch wood ash, controlling and encouraging the pooling of this glaze. My work is made in dialogue with the effects of the kiln. As each body of work is fired, questions are answered and new ones are posed in a progressive conversation with the firing technique. Wood firing is a process rich in variables. I believe in making the pots with a revelation of process. I integrate throwing lines and evidence of human touch into surface design; I do not hide attachments of handles or spouts. I seek the inherent qualities in the marks different tools make and I approach each individual pot with a similar feel though the tool might differ. This revelation of process harmonizes with the choice of wood firing. Ware from a wood kiln speaks loudly about its making. I also seek to express integrity of emotion. Each pot holds an exploration of mood, as I harmonize the foot of the pot with the rim and the handle with the spout, in an attempt to create a unified work. Much of my work reflects a playful humor that pervades my life, and feeds my spirit. Utilitarian pots may never be part of an avant-garde; a cup lacks the shock value typically associated avant-garde movements. Yet artistic potters are privy to a unique and subversive role in contemporary art; whereas much of 20th Century art has been an attempt to merge art and life, pulling Art out of museums, or bringing life into the setting of the museum, the functional pot continues to hold a place in everyone’s home. It is in the home, rather than an artistic institution, that I feel we potters should exploit. A cup is one of the first things we hold in morning, and often one of the last things we touch at night. By reintroducing artistic ware into the home we can reconnect art and the everyday. –Simon Levin