As a potter I am interested in those moments when friends, family and even strangers come together to share some time over food and drink. There is an element of ceremony in these events, a vestigial reminder of our tribal past. I try to create a focal point, a vehicle for those moments to occur. Aesthetically, the diverse flora and fungi found in the woods and pastures of my youth are my strongest influence; the soft luminous interior of a water lily cradled by the ragged and weather-worn leathery exterior, or the volume of a morel mushroom, hollow, creating structure only with its skin. It is the subtle tensions caused by this juxtaposition of hard and soft, smooth and rough, interior/exterior that I love to explore.

    I prefer to soda fire my work as it allows for originality with each pot and is an endless source of exploration for me. At around 2200 degrees fahrenheit, I spray dissolved soda ash (sodium carbonate) into the kiln. The resulting vapor moves throughout the kiln to both flux and create glazed surfaces on my work. Due to this approach I am forced to relinquish control on some level and each piece becomes its own by virtue of location in the kiln and the path the vapor takes. Like all of us no two pieces are ever alike.

 

 

 

 

Artist Statement

                   Resumé

Education

 Syracuse University, Syracuse, New York

 MFA, Ceramics, 2009

 State University of New York College at Cortland, Cortland, New York

 Bachelor of Arts, 1995

 Major: Studio Art, Concentration In: Ceramics and Sculpture

 

Organizations, Committees, and Community Service

 Empty Bowls @ Syracuse University, Events Coordinator 2007 & Annual Donator

 SCS (Shaped Clay Society) President 2008-2009

 Juror for National High School Ceramics Exhibition 2008

 Faculty Search Committee, Student Representative 2009

 Syracuse Ceramics Guild Member

 Cups For A Cause, 2013-2016

 Juror for Homer Center for the Arts Annual Student Exhibition, 2015-2016

 Summer Hill Sculpture Park, Summer Hill, NY, Founding Member/Board Member

 IPA, Independent Potters Association

 Finger Lakes Pottery Tour, Founding Member

 

Exhibitions/Awards

 Foshan International Invitational Ceramics Exhibition, Foshan, China 2002

 UAMONT Second National Juried Cup Show, Monticello, AK

 History in the Making, National Juried Show, Rochester, NY  -Honorable Mention

 Bowled Over, Invitational show at Chameleon Gallery, Cazenovia, NY

 Gulf Coast Community College’s National Juried Cup Show, Panama City, FL

 UAMONT Third National Juried Cup Show, Monticello, AK

 Belgrade to Bellingham, New Works from Syracuse University at the 42nd Annual

    Conference of The National Council on Education for the Ceramic Arts, Pittsburg, PA

 Into the Garden, Chameleon Gallery, Cazenovia, NY 

 16th Annual Strictly Functional Pottery National, Lancaster, PA

 Barrett Clay Work's Annual National Juried Cup Show-Artistic Excellence Award

 The Salted Lip - Solo Show Gandee Gallery, Fabius, NY

 Cub Creek Traveling Exhibition, Earlham College, IN and Juniata College, PA.

 Gallery Expo, NCECA Gandee Gallery, 2015- Present 

 John Jessiman: A Life in Clay, (select student invitation)

     -Ball State University, Atrium Gallery, Muncie, IN 

     - Lillstreet Art Gallery, Chicago, IL.

 Solo Show, Clayscapes Gallery, Syracuse, NY 2014 

 First Place Award, Park Ave Summer Arts Fest, Rochester, NY 2014

 Second Place Award, Allentown Arts Festival, Buffalo, NY 2014

 Solo Exhibit, Cortland County Arts Council, Cortland, NY 2015 

 IPA Group Exhibition at The George Waters Gallery Elmira College, Elmira, NY 2015

 The All Mighty Cup Show, Gandee Gallery, Fabius, NY 2016

 Summer Hill Sculpture Park Opening Show 2016

 Award of Distinction, Syracuse Arts Festival, Syracuse, NY 2017, 2019

 Gandee Gallery 10 Year Select Artists, Gandee Gallery Fabius, NY 2019

 66th Rochester Fingerlakes Exhibition, Rochester, NY 2019

 

Permanent Collections/ Gallery Representation 

 Dowde Fine Art Gallery, State University College at Cortland, Cortland, NY

 Foshan Contemporary Ceramic Art Research Center, Foshan, China

 La Mano Ceramics, Manhattan, NY 

 Broad St. Gallery, Hamilton, NY

 Lillstreet Gallery, Chicago, IL

 Gandee Gallery, Fabius, NY

 Clayscapes Gallery, Syracuse, NY

 Imagine, Skaneateles, NY 

 Memorial Art Gallery, Rochester, NY

 Foshan Contemporary Ceramic Art Research Center, Foshan, China

 Suart Galleries Permanent Collection, Syracuse University, Syracuse, NY

 Cub Creek Foundation Permanent Collection, Appomattox, Virginia

 Venice Merchant Permanent Collection, Loudai Village, China 

 Carmen Barandas Private Collection, San Miguel, Mexico

 Pam Butler Private Collection, Farmville, Virginia

 Zhao Shu Tong Private Collection, Chengdu, China

 

Kiln Building

 SUNY Cortland:  45 cu ft gas reduction kiln & 10 cu ft portable Raku kiln

 Syracuse University:  40 cu ft Soda kiln. 

 Cub Creek Foundation:  100 cu ft Anagama & 300 cu ft Noborigama

 DeRuyter, NY:  25 cu ft Minnesota Flat Top, 

 Slake Barrel Ceramics, Cortland, NY:  40 cu ft Soda kiln

 Venice Merchants Tile Factory, Loudai, China: 38 cu ft Soda Kiln

 

Residencies

 Artist Residence Jingdezhen Sanbao Ceramic Art Institute, Jingdezhen, China 2003 

 Artist Residence Cub Creek Foundation, Appomattox, Virginia

 

Teaching/Demonstration/Speaking Engagements 

  SUNY Cortland, Cortland, NY Studio Assistant

  La Mano Ceramics, Manhattan, NY Instructor/Studio Tech

  Cornel University Pottery Shop, Ithaca, NY Instructor 2005-2007

  Syracuse University, Syracuse, NY Instructor 2008-2009, Adjunct Professor 2009

  Work Demo and Discussion, Syracuse University, 2011

  Annual Throwing Demo, Homer Junior High, 2013-Present

  Current trends in Contemporary American Ceramics, Lecturer Sichuan Conservatory     

   Academy, Chengdu, China, 2016

  Clay School of Ithaca Annual Soda Fire Workshop 2018- Present

  Private Studio Classes for children and adults, Cortland, NY 2014 - Present

 

Publications

  Ceramics Monthly, The MFA Factor, 2009

  What’s Hot Magazine, Artist Spread, 2015

  Chengdu Daily Newspaper, 2016 

  A Brief History of Soda Firing

                   

 

    The earliest form of soda glazing is Egyptian paste, which dates back to 5000 B.C., and involves the use of a 'self -glazing' clay body. Soluble soda bearing marterials, introduced as components of the body, migrate to the surface of the ware during drying and form a glaze when fired to low temperature, approximately 1652 degrees Ferenheit.  Soluble forms of soda are also used in high-temperature vapor-glazing processes, but in this case they are vaporizd and brought in contact with clay surfaces in the hot kiln, 2102-2372 degrees Ferenheit.

     The use of salt in vapor glazing developed in Germany during the twelfth to fifteenth centuries. Through this long history and widespread industrial use, the term salt glazing became synonymous with vapor glazing. Industrial salt glazing declined in the mid-twentieth century, in favor of more efficient, economical and environmentally acceptable production methods. But the aesthetic merits of salt glaze continued to be valued and pursued by studio potters. During the 1970's, environmental concerns led many potters to experiment with sodium carbonates, seeking environmentally friendly chloride-free alternatives to salt glazing. For lack of a better name, this new form of vapor glazing became known as soda glazing. Technically, both salt and soda glaze are formed from exposure of clay materials to sodium vapor. The term soda glazing  is generally used to denote sodium carbonate vapor glazing and distinguish it from salt glazing.

                                               

                                                                  - Soda, Clay and Fire  by Gail Nichols