Red Lodge Clay Center – Short-Term Resident 2019 – 2020
Harrison Levenstein is a potter/ceramic artist from Washington State, with a passion for firing with wood. He earned his BA in Studio Art (Ceramics) and Art Education beneath the Redwood canopy at Humboldt State University in northern California. After his undergraduate studies he began an 8-month internship with Peter Olsen, a wood fire potter in Washington. This was followed by an 18-month apprenticeship under wood fire potter, Simon Levin in the Midwest. From February-June of 2019, he was an artist-in-residence at the Golden Bridge Pottery in Pondicherry, India, where he spent time learning new techniques, experimenting with local materials, and firing their anagama with the locally cultivated casuarina wood.
Levenstein’s work is purchased, used, and appreciated both domestically, and internationally. In the US, he has exhibited with such outfits as the Belger Craneyard Studios in Kansas City, the Morean Arts Center in Florida, and in shows such as the Strictly Functional Pottery National, James May Gallery’s, Working Pots III, and the California Conference for the Advancement of Ceramic Arts. His writings have been published on the blog of the National Council on Education for the Ceramics Arts.
I strive to make pottery that combines strong form with functionality, and celebrates the materials and processes with which it was made. Wavy rims above curvy profiles add a sense of rhythm and provide a canvas for the effects of the firing. Generous spouts, handles and bellies speak to their given functions. Strong trimmed lines and soft connections tell the tales of the clay’s wet state. Muted tones of reduction-cooled dark clays, with touches of bright glaze or flashing reminisce of the landscapes they were born in.
Formal inspiration is often drawn from historical ceramics, but also arises through careful observation of my day-to-day life. I have lived in many places, and the unique environments of each inevitably have their influence on what I make while living there.
Historically, wood firing has a deep tradition of place-based pots. I become a part of each place that I settle into enough to make work. The pots that I make while living there become a reflection of that connection both conceptually through form and design, and literally because they contain local materials, and are fired with locally grown wood. I love experimenting with the complex atmospheric effects that various wood-firing, and more recently soda-firing, techniques have on the clay. By designing my own clay bodies I gain more acute control of the fired palette, which is further informed by the environment in which they were made. Like a tree or a boulder, I hope that when the pots are finished, they can exist quietly, yet strongly in the spaces they occupy.