Simon Levin

Artist Statement

My work is made in harmony with the choice of firing method. Firing with wood has several inherent qualities. These kilns have a distinct wind and directionality to them. The pots I make are made of clay bodies that are reactive to variations in temperature and atmosphere. The wood produces ash which lands on the pots and melts, forming a naturally occurring glaze. The structural qualities of the pots, in form and texture, are made to catch wood ash, controlling and encouraging the pooling of this glaze. My work is made in dialogue with the effects of the kiln. As each body of work is fired, questions are answered and new ones are posed in a progressive conversation with the firing technique. Wood-firing is a process rich in variables. I believe in making the pots with a revelation of process. I integrate throwing lines and evidence of human touch into surface design, I do not hide attachments of handles or spouts. I seek the inherent qualities in the marks different tools make and I approach each individual pot with a similar feel though the tool might differ. This revelation of process harmonizes with the choice of wood-firing. Ware from a wood kiln speaks loudly about its making. I also seek to express an integrity of emotion. Each pot holds an exploration of mood, as I harmonize the foot of the pot with the rim and the handle with the spout, in an attempt to create a unified work. Much of my work reflects a playful humor that pervades my life, and feeds my spirit.

Artist Bio

In 1993 I fell in love with the movement of flame through a wood-kiln. Its sensuous quality is something I seek to capture in my work with soft forms, full curves and flame paths etched into the surface. This quest led me to an M.F.A. from the University of Iowa. I now own Mill Creek Pottery in Wisconsin, where my apprentices and I work to advance the cause of wood-fired pottery. In 2013 I was a Fulbright Senior Scholar in Taiwan exploring the potential of local materials. Recently I have been a visiting artist, lecturer and kiln builder at The China Academy of the Arts in Hangzhou. There my apprentices and I have been bringing a technology that originated in Asia and has evolved in the incubator of the United States back to Asia. Clay is central to my life.