The Roundup -

Confluence of Creativity Coming to the MDHC

Invitational Art Exhibition, June 4 - July 27

 

Local artists Trish Stevenson and Afton Ray have gathered a treasure trove of local and regional artists to the "Confluence of Creativity" at the MonDak Heritage Center in Sidney. The show, which runs through July 27, will feature about 14 different artists including painters, a book illustrator, a glass artist and more, plus musical acts. An opening reception with several artists in attendance, will be held on Friday, June 7 from 6 to 8 p.m. Enjoy refreshments and musical entertainment by Lane Sandstrum and Mick Soiseth as you browse through the various works of art.

The Roundup will be regularly featuring artists from the show.

Tama Smith has worked as a professional potter since graduating from the University of North Dakota with a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in 1988. When at UND she worked closely with Japanese ceramist Kesuki Ueno who strongly influenced her in the development of high-fire glazes and Cone 10 reduction kiln firing techniques. Tama then continued her ceramic studies with post-graduate work at Michigan State University.

While in Michigan she went into business as Tama Pottery. By the mid-1990s her work was being exhibited at major wholesale markets in New York, Los Angeles, Dallas, and Seattle. Her pottery was featured in national mail order catalogs and carried in the gift shops of the Whitney Museum of Art, Field Museum of Natural History, the Smithsonian National Museum, Disney World, Yellowstone National Park and other venues.

In 1995 she and her husband, Jerry DeMartin, relocated their business to Beach, North Dakota where it was renamed, Prairie Fire Pottery. Today this small town pottery shop on the Montana border is a popular stop with tourists traveling across the western High Plains.

Her work is prized by collectors and pottery enthusiasts for its vivid and complex colors. These glaze colors are produced from original recipes each made from scratch. Tama uses a variety of production techniques including wheel-throwing, hand building, extruding and pressing. Glazes are applied with a variety of ladles and small squirt bottles. She works primarily in stoneware clay.

Tama Smith, professional potter.

Tana describes herself as a "fire potter" which is to say that –for her–the real fun begins when she eases open the gas valve, dials in just the right amount of air, and then touches an open flame to the burner ports. With that, her 85 cubic foot downdraft kiln roars back to life. The firing process usually takes about 18 hours. Behind the 9-inch thick brick walls of her handmade kiln bangs a 2400º fireball. This is the same temperature the Space Shuttle would reach on re-entry to the Earth's atmosphere. Along the way, there are numerous decisions and precise adjustments to be made: the air-to-gas ratio, the shape and color of the flames, the amount of visible back-pressure, the aperture of the flue, the slow progression through quarts inversion, the steady per hour temperature climb, and most importantly for the production of color, the pursuit of an ever-elusive reduction atmosphere.

This combination of original glaze recipes, a unique style of glaze application, and the painstaking precision with which she coaxes color from the firing process is what gives her pottery its distinction and unique standing in the marketplace.

 

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