Fired and Glazed Earth Piece
University of Notre Dame, South Bend, IN / 1979
Left: Pre-fireing, 12 ft long, fire brick, ceramic fiber blanket, metal tubing, burner, propane, earth.
Middle left: One of two night firings, 12 ft long, fire brick, ceramic fiber blanket, metal tubing, burner, propane, earth (borax, frit, soda ash - second firing).
Middle right: 12 ft long, fire brick, fused earth beneath kiln / first firing of kiln.
Right: 12 ft long, fire brick, fused and glazed earth beneath kiln / second firing of kiln.
and Glazed Earth Piece, is
the first larger environmental performance/ kiln work after
a series of smaller experimental kilns and firing projects.
This work has two stages, the first of purely firing the
existing earth in-situ. The second state, is after a second firing and the layered placement
of all powdered glaze materials available at the Notre
Dame ceramic facility were fused in-situ. In both cases
the burner was placed in one end of the kiln, and left
a unknown temperature,
the purpose being to let the kiln dynamics and natural
forces (to the extent possible) determine the state of
fusion of the materials,
not a pre-determined formula or goal. The burner was left
on until it appeared the kiln would no longer rise in temperature. Much of this attitude came from working with traditional kilns and organizing structures inside that might collapse or become radically altered beyond my control - to allow the kiln and enclosed elements to "speak."
Fired and Glazed Earth Piece is also related to the process and earthworks projects done by artists of the 1960's and 1970's, references to this relationship are included in Connie Lewallan's, Furnace Projects, article (see link below). Echoing volcanic processes, such as contact metamorphism where a heat source (plutonic intrusion, lava flow, etc) would come into contact with the surrounding native rock and create an altered zone of materials, potential metamorphic facies change in minerology as well as color and texture. The illumination of the ceramic fiber blanket by the heat of the firing, sustaining the kilns ship form at night, became important in developing the spectacle/kiln image dynamic of later projects.
Projects: Material and Process Experiments in/of the Landscape, John