Artisit-in-Residence in SETO

Part 1
Part 1
Open Studio
Curtis Benzle


Part 2
Part 2
Noell El Farol
Part 3
Part 3
Arnold Annen

Violette Fassbaender

Artist-in-Residence 2000-2001 Part1

Curtis Benzle

I was honored to be asked to participate in the Seto
Residency Program and humbled by the generosity and kindness
of everyone I have met while here.

When I came to Seto I purposefully brought only a very few personal
tools and two nericomi "rolls" I intended to be a part of my Seto
work. I wanted the work I made here to be unique to Seto and for me
a part of that meant using the same tools and materials that are
available locally.

I began my Seto residency with a week of extensive study and testing
of local materials. Mr. Takafuku Kato of the Mariushi Ceramic Materials Co. was very helpful in introducing me to the "New Bone" porcelain that I ultimately choose to use. For color I tested, and used, ceramic stains obtained from Kajita Enogu Ten in Seto.

Because of the eggshell thin style I work in and my desire to transcend the flat rimmed eggshell porcelain of China, I have developed a unique method of making and firing pieces in individual saggers. I spent most of my second week working with my assistants, Yoda and Mina, to make castable molds of the new forms I created in Seto.

My third week was spent mixing colors of clay and slip and then 
designing and constructing the nericomi rolls that would form the patterned surfaces in my work.

Finally, during my forth week, I was able to put all of these processes together and begin creating the finished pieces. While I must mention 
that it is a very rare, and much appreciated, opportunity for me to 
have one month to work uninterrupted, that same month went by very fast and left me wishing for even more time to take advantage of all the time spent in preparation of materials.

About my work;

While I studied pottery in college and served an apprenticeship with master potter, Robert Eckels, my approach to ceramics is more as a painter than a potter. While I have developed, and use, many 
techniques, I have no special dedication to any one technique and use whatever process is needed to achieve a personal ideal of beauty. 
I work in clay because it meets my artistic needs and because I love 
the feeling of clay in my hands. Most potters feel an emotional 
connection to clay and I share this reaction.

In general, I use nericomi technique to achieve specific imagery and patterning and slip painting to soften the imagery and create a mood. 
I use color because it expresses the emotional vitality of life and I use gradations of color because they soften the harsh juxtaposition of colors.

In terms of the imagery I use, in most cases the back panels of a piece show a representational image and the front panels are an abstraction 
of some aspect of the image on the back. In most cases this 
abstraction is in the form of a magnification. I use magnification 
because it reveals the seemingly infinite structure and intricate 
patterns that fill the world around us.

The gold on the bases* is symbolic of the perfection, or divinity, in our lives Curiously, the gold details on the porcelain represents the 
presence, and repair, of a crack. These cracks are an expected part 
of working so thinly and large and I do not want to attempt to deny 
their presence. The simultaneous use of gold to symbolize divine 
presence and also identify flaws is not a coincident. 

While the time constraints did force some quick firings and a higher than normal percentage of problems, I feel the work I did in during my 
residency is a fair representation of what I do as an artist. By 
increasing the scale of my work far beyond normal limits I set a difficult challenge to reach and I am surprised, and pleased, to have come as 
close as I did to succeeding. I fear I have benefited far more from this experience than I have been able to offer in return and for that I can 
only express my sincere appreciation to everyone involved with this exceptional program. 

Thank you,

Curtis Benzle