Preview Gallery December 2013

 Mark Kozma’s pots

As we unload the pots for the Christmas Sale I am paying close attention to the flaws and merits of my work. These pieces are of great significance to me, because the next firing cycle will be my last as an apprentice with Mark. Firing 88 gives me clues about how I want my pots to look when my apprenticeship is complete. Coffee pots are a new form I made for this opening, and I hope to add several more complex pieces in the New Year. For now we are just enjoying the pots while they are still here in our presence.

 Adrian King’s pots

As the first year of my apprenticeship comes to an end, I reflect on all that I have learned working with Mark here in North Carolina. When I started in early January, I was fresh out of art school, thinking that I knew everything there was to know. On day one, I began making pots. Mark came over to demonstrate how to make a small juice cup and said, “Forget everything you learned and start again.” That’s when I knew I was in for a serious ride.

I started with small pots, juice cups, bud vases, small jars, and slowly worked my way up to more intricate forms. As I began to feel more comfortable with the clay and the daily pace of the workshop, I took on larger pots and more complex shapes.  I love a good challenge, and it is a lucky thing because it continually stares me in the face. Although I feel I have significantly improved my craft, I still have much to learn and many more challenges to tackle before I am ready to leave here and open my own business.

Mark frequently tells us that it takes about a year to get used to the way things work at the pottery, to understand the flow and rhythm of the workshop, what decorations look best on pots and how firing in certain parts of the kiln will give vessels a particular look. As we disembark from the 88th firing (my third firing here), and embark on the 89th, I feel like I am finally swimming with the current, not against it. My pots are beginning to take on a more sophisticated and rich quality. I am proud of how far I have come and I look forward to another quantum leap over the coming year.

PREVIEW – Firing 88, December 2013

It must be in the numbers. Firing 88 (symbolizing fortune and good luck in Chinese culture), unloaded on November 29 (my lucky number), proved to be one of the best ever. It might, however, have just been the white cypress we used to side-stoke, rather than yellow pine. But, whatever the reason, the kiln got beautifully hot and the pots look fabulous.

Behind their actual physicality, beyond the way the pots look, lies a method of making, an exacting finesse, that requires a cycle-long, if not a life-long, focus. Writing in a soon-to-be published exhibition catalogue about my former apprentice, Alex Matisse, I described the heart of the matter like this:

“The work is an arduous meditation; moving wood is a prayer, clay preparation a devotion – a focus before action – and then the world is ours. Each pot is a recitation, a solitary pilgrimage inward, a time-sensitive, spiraling pathway, a substantive reconfiguration by touch. A mound held firm yields to pressure, pliant clay slides open, the walls rise, shape swells palpably, and the silky kaolinitic membrane becomes incrementally thinner with each diminishment of touch until the wall seems shaped by pulse alone. Pots are made with blood. Our eyes are in our fingers.”

Come see for yourselves this weekend and next!