Featured Artist Michael Wisner – Red Lodge Clay Center

Featured Artist Michael WisnerSep 06, 2024 - Sep 28, 2024

Curatorial Statement

Exhibition Posted Online: Monday, September 9, 2024 at 10 am MT

 

For many years, Michael Wisner has studied extensively with indigenous potters from Mexico and the American Southwest. In 1989 he began a summer apprenticeship with Juan Quezada, living national treasure of Mexico. Currently, Wisner lives and works in Woody Creek, Colorado, where he digs local clay for his work. He hand-coils the clay to create his forms, which he then incises and fires outdoors in an open bonfire. Traditional woven textiles inspire his designs.

 

I look at the creative process as a collaboration between nature and the artist where each has a voice in the process. Art is a celebration of our contact with the natural world. Beautiful places inspire us and become a mirror that reflects inside and helps to stir creativity to the surface.

My work is the amalgamation of something old and something new. For many years I studied under the traditional Mexican artist Juan Quezada, recipient of Mexico’s highest award “Bellas Artes”. Juan taught me traditional pottery skills literally from the ground up. His rigorous standard of craftsmanship challenged me to develop handmaking skills to a level I thought impossible. His passion to create was contagious. I worked for years under his tutelage while simultaneously working as a resident artist at the Anderson Ranch Arts Center in Colorado where I was exposed to many contemporary ideas. Straddling both worlds of traditional and contemporary ceramics, I began to incorporate elements from both. Today I use Juan’s old clay technology rich with natural clay colors made from clay found here in the mountains. Using old and new hand building techniques I make soft rounded forms many I consider feminine. Over these surfaces I have developed hundreds of contemporary patterns that replace the traditional painting seen in southwest pottery. These patterns all originate from nature. Ideas come from many sources including pinecones, seed pods and rhythmic patterns seen throughout nature like ocean waves. I hope that this work bringing together the familiar and novel somehow tickles the senses.
-Michael Wisner