Viz City Interviews Clay Artist Karen Perkins
Date of Interview: Tues. Jan 16, 2018
Date of Broadcast: Wed. Jan. 24, 2018
RE: Maude Kerns Art Center, “A Convergence Of Elements,” Michael de Forest, Karen Perkins, Gretchen Wachs, & Greg Wilbur. Exhibit Dates: January 12 - February 9
This is Viz City, KLCC’s Arts Review program. Fire crackling in a wood stove and the whirr of the potter’s wheel are the sounds of Karen Perkin’s Lorane Valley ceramics studio. Karen describes her beginning in clay like this,
"Ceramics is such a--is a very physical activity. I think in the beginning I got into it because it was less scary to me. I didn’t see myself as an artist per se, it was just --I was working with clay. Then gradually as I worked more and more, I started creating these pieces that sort of had their own life and they started moving in their own direction, and then they came out in series and I just kind of kept following what was happening--and I guess that’s how you become an artist."
Karen’s ceramics are in a show called “A Convergence of Elements” featuring the work of four artists working in a variety of media currently at the Maude Kerns Art Center. Karen describes “process” as a major focus for all four artists. They all value leaving the mark of the hammer, the burnishing tool, and the flow of the fire atmosphere. She says, "I love wheel-throwing. And I just love the moisture and the malleability of the material--I can move it around at different phases and do different things.”
Karen explains that her ceramic pieces are wheel thrown, altered with slabs, pinched elements, or coils, and then smoke fired and burnished. "The process I’m using is burnishing the clay, and then some of the firing techniques are what illuminate different colors. So I’ll take a clay, I’ll coat it with a really really thick slip, which is just a thick, goopy clay, and put it right into my raku kiln. It makes a sort of crackle as it shrinks, and then what I do is then I put it into something combustible--."
Karen says this is a raku process, but it’s unusual in that it is colored with clay instead of with glaze, which she polishes to high sheen with various tools. She laughs as she admits, "I’m constantly experimenting!"
“A Convergence Of Elements” has been beautifully curated by Michael Fisher, so try to make time to stop by and see the show, which runs through February 9. Maude Kerns Art Center is located at 1910 East 15th Avenue in Eugene.
Viz City is co-produced by Terry Way and Sandy Brown Jensen.