Statement written for The Kansas City performance
Ceramics has edges. Step over the edge, G-d forbid, you are a painter.
Where are these edges, and what happens when you get close?
I have been making kilns as art for quite a while. This pipe organ kiln
is about as far as one could get from something to fire pots and still
call it a kiln. Outside of the "fun with flames" aspect of
clay, this piece does not seem ceramic. I have thoughts about doing
away with the kiln and just using pilots on my gas jets.
There is a smidge of tinker and alchemist in potters of the 20th century
U.S. Usually the tinkering has to do with kilns; the Bendel's Burner,
Olson's Flat-top, Lowell Bakers' sawdust burners. Glazes bear the formulator's
names; Shaner Red, Wertz Carbon Trap, Leach 1234 Celadon, and Katz 1,1,1,
Celadon. Perhaps this kind of tinkering is what ties my work to clay.
Modern tinkers often feel that they would have been better born in the
age of steam. They are often more comfortable around mechanical devices
and simple electricity than silicon chips. Smoke, noise, heat, simple
machines and steam are not qualities that make the ceramist tinker nervous.
These qualities along with the rhythms of train travel should be comfortable
to the potter, with his machines, smoke and rhythms.
The clicks of tracks go by as pots and musical measures do. Music is
cut into sections and phrases, pottery into wareboards. Other delimiters
of rhythm, stations stops, kiln loads, symphonic movements all relate.
In pottery we often affiliate ourselves with the material. Perhaps another
affiliation is with rhythm.
In 1975 I made a conscious decision to cut back on music to devote time
to clay. Who would have guessed that 27 years later I would be practicing
keyboard music an hour a day for a ceramic performance. Clay, music,
math, and dance have threads of commonality. Describing music through
patterns in flame, pottery form through the dissection of curves in
calculus, and understanding throwing through dance, all has value. My
work here I hope will also be fun.