Jack SchwarzeBozeman, Montana

Red Lodge Clay Center – Short-Term Resident 2024

Jack Schwarze is a Montana raised artist currently working and living in Helena. He received his BFA from Montana State University in his hometown of Bozeman in 2019. Jack’s passion for wood firing led to building kilns in Montana, Wyoming, California and Curitiba, Brazil. He worked as a resident artist at Cobb Mountain Art and Ecology Project in 2021. His functional wares draw inspiration from Montana’s natural landscape and rural living while incorporating years of culinary experience into the design process.

The sculptural bodies of work include forms derived from traditions of labor and surviving a harsh climate. Often the works will resemble cast away tools and equipment left to decay in the elements. The wood fired surfaces can resemble corroded metal, thriving lichens, decay and erosion, ultimately creating a sense of time.

As a potter and sculptor my work seeks to bring reverence to the spaces we inhabit. I am interested in the elemental and transformative quality of wood firing and the unique surfaces that it creates. My admiration for the process stems from the rich traditions and ingenuity of wood fired kilns as well as the demanding physical experience of firing them. In a world of technological ease, the process requires skill and preparation that gives me reprieve from the automatic quality of modern living. Chopping wood and stoking the kiln becomes a meditative and enriching practice. The flame and ash create visually complex surfaces with a wide range of color, texture, and reflective quality. The effects can be serendipitous and unique to each firing yet seem to be unified through being imbued with wood gathered from the landscape.

My interest in functional wares stems from my formative years growing food and working as a chef. In what way can the vessels enhance the human experience of eating food from local bounty? Well crafted pots tend to bring focus to nourishing ourselves and elevate the table to a space to hold in high regard. These functional forms use texture, line, and color to frame the food they contain.

The sculptural work examines the modern rural landscape. I am interested in the objects, tools, and waste created by the industries that occupy the west such as industrial food production and mining. Farm equipment decaying in fields, mining implements rusting in ghost towns, a forgotten and untethered buoy floating in the ocean; these are some of the forms that captivate me. The aesthetic qualities of these things decaying and the manner of their disposal inspires the surfaces and forms in my work. There is a sinister quality to the impact of industry in the west yet we all owe our modern comfort to the innovations of technology and industry.

Ultimately the work seeks to incorporate modern design with traditions of craft and labor within the context of the contemporary American west. Through my own experience of manipulating clay, I am discovering my sense of being in relation to the earth. The resulting objects inform the viewer or user of the value of the landscape, their living space, and upholding traditions in craft.