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Pottery as Poetry, Janet Burner

April 6, 2014 , , ,


I recently reread  the book Centering by Mary C Richards, a potter. In it she waxes very poetic about the subject of pottery. When I was covered with mud I considered Ms Richards to be  fluffy and woo woo. About 35 years later I see how centering clay on a wheel is sheer poetry. I also notice my own approach to centering, which has never left me. I now like to center my body from the core in deep water, using tubular units for balance.  This month as I attempt to write a poem a day I searched my memory for inspiration.  Janet Burner, queen of all alchemists and artist of great skill and talent, popped into my mind.  She has awesome technical skills and an alliance with fire like nobody I have ever seen.  I like fire myself and enjoyed my time as a kiln queen.  Janet has perfected various styles of firing to add variety and excitement to her work. She has always been famous for her raku.  Now she has evolved other techniques, both modern and ancient, to bring her work to life.

In the kiln the pot is actually born.  Just like an animal at birth, it also has a chance of dying.  Potters must accept that some work will crack or be ruined in the firing.  They must also accept that pottery is breakable, and glazes can only be controlled to a certain extent.  Intimate knowledge and wisdom of the firing process results from practice and experimentation.  I think of Janet Burner as the ultimate goddess of the fire.  We talked about how ironic it is that her last name is Burner, both because of fire and because one of the oldest techniques used in finished ceramics is called burnishing.   Her work today is created in a wonderful studio full of light, love, and art that she built herself.  The artful courtyard garden serves as a gallery to display her work.  She continues to teach at the Tucson Museum of Art School and grace our community with her participation in the Pima Arts Council Open Studio Tours.  Next weekend you can visit artists and see their studios all over Tucson.  This is an excellent way to find art and artists.

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such gorgeous poetry.. and such creative work. It blends into her home so seamlessly!


Stevie Wilson (@LAStory)

April 9, 2014

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