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34th-annual Ceramic Showcase set

Oregon Potters Association is one of the nation's largest all-ceramic shows

SUBMITTED PHOTOS:  - West Linns Sara Swink is one of the 150 ceramicists who will be showing her art at the 34th-annual Ceramic Showcase April 29, 30 and May 1 at Veterans Memorial Coliseum.

The 34th-annual Ceramic Showcase featuring the art of members of the Oregon Potters Association is a three-day event that kicks off this month and showcases more than 150 Pacific Northwest potters and ceramic artists in Oregon and Southwest Washington.

Ceramic Showcase includes professional and emerging artists as well as students who are learning the craft and how to display their work. Attendees will find unique ceramic pieces including sculptures, wall art and other items for the home, garden and office — and gifts for Mother’s Day, weddings, birthdays and more.

The event runs from 10 a.m.-7 p.m. Friday and Saturday, April 29 and 30 and 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Sunday, May 1 at Veterans Memorial Coliseum in the Rose Quarter, 300 N. Winning Way in Portland.

Local artists involved in the show include Sara Swink of West Linn and Ha Austin and Jim Wylder of Lake Oswego. Swink makes clay human and animal figures with a psychological stance.

“My hand-built sculptural work imparts ideas through stories, often with a humorous edge,” she writes in her artist statement. “I’ve always loved animals and enjoy expressing human foibles through the animal persona. I like to form fast in a gritty sculpture clay, incised into the clay, bisque fire, finish with oxides, underglazes and glazes, then fire to cone 5.

“My ideas derive most often from a process methodology that I teach in workshops, which employs simple and accessible techniques like collage and doodling to unleash the unconscious. Then I try to stay out of the way, letting ideas flow, selecting the ones that most resonate to bring into clay. I always get ideas from what I’m reading, a phrase or concept that triggers an idea for a piece. I sketch a lot, and one piece often leads to more ideas. There is a thread of personal narrative that runs through all my ceramic work. Reflection and writing help me to recognize and make some sense of the progression. It’s the process of inner exploration that keeps me moving forward.”

Wylder has been doing ceramics since 1968, when he was firmly bitten by the bug during a pottery wheel demonstration by a local farmer.

“It is safe to say there are few days since when I have not touched or thought about clay,” he writes in his artist statement.

“My focus is naked raku. All the years doing everything else seem to have slipped away in a blur. Form and surface have merged to reveal my mind’s eye. No glaze is used. The surface is burnished to a high gloss before the first firing. Fire and smoke mark the surface in the second firing. Many layers of design unify in the finished pot. The eggshell surface encourages handling.”

Wylder’s current work includes tiles and platters.

Austin put off using the artistic side of his brain and pursued a career in science and healthcare, but wandered into a ceramic classroom while teaching at a community college in Iowa.

“I was immediately overtaken by the endless possibilities and freedom to explore and express my artistic half,” he writes in his artist statement. “Ever since that cataclysmic day I have evolved from creating pots from earthenware to functional stoneware to decorative porcelain.

“My ceramic education has been self-directed ...the more I learn, the more I realize that working in clay combined science and art and I found myself right where I wanted to be.

“My forms are created on and off the potter’s wheel using porcelain and white stoneware clay. My glazes are all hand mixed. The intricate and meticulous nature that is involved in measuring and mixing my crystalline glazes as well as the mystery surrounding the determination of the appropriate firing schedule, appeals to my science-based education. Sometimes I feel like I am a mad scientist toiling in my lab, mixing up various chemicals to form the ultimate glaze and then ‘throwing the switch’ to see ‘what life forms’ (crystals) will emerge from my kiln.”

The Ceramic Showcase also includes music, drawings for showcase purchases, clay exploration area for adults and children, demonstrations and a gallery of high school ceramics.

The event is free and open to all; donations are gladly accepted to support the Oregon Potters Association’s clay educational mission.

Learn more online at www.ceramicshowcase.com.

Ha Austin of Lake Oswego says he sometimes feels like a mad scientist, mixing chemicals to form glazes.

— The Review, Tidings