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PETER OPHEIM Lines and Form: Ceramics and Works on Paper    Jan 13 - Jan 31, 2012


By appointment only

These pieces were made in the mountains of northern New Mexico near the village of San Cristobal.

I have come to making raku ceramics from painting. For me, it is essentially a water-based medium that also uses earth, fire and air to create a piece of art.

These pieces are first thrown on a wheel using 25 to 35 pounds of clay. Then, while the clay is still wet, I alter it, using my arms and hands, to push and pull the form. It is primarily in this last stage that I give each piece its personality and give it a feeling of life.

Initially, each piece is allowed to dry slowly and then bisque fired. The outside and the inside are equally important and they should balance each other. One way to think about the pieces is that it is just a form that is built to provide a surface for the glaze. I consider it a three dimensional canvas for the black lines that form on the surface.

Unlike typical pottery ceramics that are dipped in a glaze, the raku glaze is brushed on in layers. The finished black lines that result are a somewhat accidental painting, since these lines are not directly controlled. Even though, there are a number of factors that determine the crackle lines, they do not appear until after the final firing in an air reduction process.

In the final firing, the ceramic pieces are fired very quickly in a special raku kiln. While they are still glowing red hot, at almost 2000 degrees, the ceramic pieces are individually removed from the kiln and exposed to air, water and then again to fire and smoke.

The final piece needs to be a harmonious blend of form, lines and artistic liveliness. It is only if these characteristics are evident and if it the piece feels alive, that the piece is kept. The elements of water, earth, fire and air should all be content and in balance with each other.

In my making of the raku ceramics, I have looked to make work that embraces the artistic philosophy of small moments of subtle and imperfect beauty.

Peter Opheim

NYC

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