"Suzanne Hill, Ceramicist's Saggar Fired Pottery"
Exhibition at James Ratliff Gallery. Hillside Sedona, Sedona, AZ
By: James Ratliff Gallery
Suzanne Hill has been working in clay for over 35 years. After receiving her Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from Rhode Island School of Design, she went on to study with some of the most renowned ceramic artists in the country at Alfred College of Ceramics, earning a Master of Fine Arts in Ceramic Art. Since then, she has taught ceramic art in colleges, schools and camps and worked as an independent potter in New York City, at the Corcoran Museum in Washington, DC, and presently in Concord, MA. She lived overseas for over ten years; in Peru, Mexico, and Bangladesh; where she had the opportunity to study the traditional crafts of those countries and to work with indigenous potters. She enjoys working with all the possibilities clay has to offer, and produces a range of both functional and decorative pieces.
Suzanne says: "I see myself as both an artist and a craftsperson. What separates fine craft from an ordinary object is that it goes beyond pure function and becomes a thing of beauty as well. Even my decorative work is based on functional shapes. As a potter, I am always working with the relationship of form to decoration. There are so many variables when decorating a piece that one must learn to set up the conditions and then to work with the glazing and firing process. It is a combination of some control as well as being guided by the process. As in nature, no two pieces are exactly the same. There is room for infinite variety. In my recent work I have been exploring the relationship between classical shapes and forms found in nature. In the most recent series, the pieces are inspired by my trips to the landscapes of coastal New England and the American southwest. The colors of the landscape and the rock formations combine with the classical vessel shapes to create unique works of art. The driftwood handles on some of the pieces are inspired by the scrub trees found in those windswept and beautiful landscapes."
"The newest technique I have been working on is called saggar firing. It comes from a combination of the techniques of pit firing and firing in saggars. The decorating and the firing are done in containers of clay called saggars. They can be any size and shape, as long as they fit into the kiln. Saggars were originally used to protect pottery from impurities like ash landing on them during a firing. Now they are used to create their own atmospheres inside the saggar. They are usually stacked one on top of another inside a gas kiln. To prepare, pots are covered with a coating of terra sigillatta, a slip made from letting clay slip settle, and siphoning off the finest particles of clay that are left in suspension on top. This slip gives a satin surface to the clay and forms the base for the smoke decoration. After the pots are bisqued, they are placed in saggars with various combustible materials packed around them. These can be anything from salt and metallic oxides to copper wire, sawdust, hay, seaweed, or wood shavings. Each saggar forms its own atmosphere inside as the kiln is fired. The waves of smoke produce patterns on the clay, each one unique."
The James Ratliff Gallery has fifty years' experience in the cultivation, exhibition and representation of contemporary art and artists." For information about Hill, contact the James Ratliff Gallery. ph. 928-282-
James Ratliff Gallery
928 282 1404