Sometimes you have to build something up and tear it down to get to the next level.
Ceramic artist Sarah Burns wasn’t content with her wheel-thrown forms. They were good. They were pretty. They were round, as perfectly round as a wheel-thrown form can be, but it wasn’t until she began to alter the wheel-thrown shapes that the love affair began. Now Burns is excited about the evolution of her organic forms and the serendipity of color created by her soda ash kiln. Her green copper-glazed vessels appear to undulate in three dimensions, as if they were fired in a fluid state.
Burns built a soda ash kiln after attending a North Country Studio workshop held at Bennington College in Vermont in 2004. A solution of water and soda ash is sprayed into the kiln at peak temperature, creating a variety of effects on the forms below. Glazes can be clear and smooth or the texture from the ash can float in and out to create a subtle orange peel effect. Burns champions the fact that chance becomes a partner in the design process.
Her latest vessel forms are totally slab built, having permutated from wheel-thrown to altered wheel-work to the free-form vessels that are manipulated as the piece dries. Her evolution as an artist is not random, but a natural selection of clearly defined successful outcomes.
Burns currently teaches at the New Hampshire Institute of Art in Manchester and has several pieces in “Garden Imagery,” currently on exhibition at Gallery 205 at the League of New Hampshire Craftsmen’s headquarters in Concord. – Susan Laughlin