Western-Style Raku Kiln Firing

Raku ware evolved from the ideals of wabi aesthetics advocated by the tea master Sen Rikyû and advised the ceramist Chôjirô, the forebear of the Raku family, in the aesthetics and philosophy of the Japanese tea ceremony. The first Raku wares were created in the mid 16th century (Momoyama period). There are earlier stylistic origins of Sancai can be traced to China during the Ming Dynasty. During the Momoyama period pottery based on a three-colour Chinese Sancai glazing style came into production in and around Kyoto. Chôjirô was one of the potters practicing these methods. This tradition of making tea bowls has evolved over the course of generations in the Raku family, which continues to this day, led by Sōkichi, the current Kichizaemon XVI. In the 1960s Paul Soldner, a ceramist from the United States, adopted and adapted these methods developed by the Raku family, leading to the type of firing depicted in this video. Paul taught many of his students this method, including the English potter Grace Bailey, who apprenticed Andrew Robinson in her studio. Andrew first learned to build and fire Raku kilns during his apprenticeship, and he has continued to develop contemporary work with roots in multiple cultural traditions including this westernized Raku firing method. In essence, the firing process depicted in this video is based on Soldner’s and the Raku family’s traditions. This method includes a forced reduction in which wares are taken from the kiln while they are still red hot. Typically, these wares are made from a high refractory stoneware and heated to around 1,650 F. The wares are placed in a combustible material, in this case sawdust, grass, and paper, and sealed in a container like a metal garbage can. By depriving the atmosphere in the can of oxygen, the wares within the fire emerge with a blackened clay body, and it may create unusual flashing and color variations in the glazes. The wares and then taken out of the fire box, and plunged into water to rapidly cool.

Bored with New York City's Art Scene?

It’s July in NYC and I’m bored.

So when I was doom scrolling and saw an open call for art from O’Flahrety’s, an art gallery that could easily pass for a dive bar at 55 Avenue C in NYC I thought what the hell. I gave them a big greasy porcelain jug proclaiming “Up With Finks” on it and a stinky finger on the back, it sort of captures my mood lately. Come down to the opening on July 14th at 8pm for a hot and sweaty time.

If you squint it might actually look like the east village of 1994 when I lived in a squat with five other people just around the corner. Ahh, the good old days.

Graffiti Project 4d (up with finks)Porcelain, glazed, with silkscreen underglaze decal prints, 12.5x4.5x4 inches

Until I see you at the opening

Here is a mixed tape to listen to, so you can hear what I’ve got playing in the studio this month. Enjoy. Listen to the July Mixed Tape

Ad Nauseam

Earlier this week I was interviewed for The Large Glass, an art-talk-show-cocktail-hour. Check out this rambling conversation about life, art and some things I’ve been making in the studio. It was fun.

I adore Janis Joplin

My mom didn’t sing lullaby’s to me as a kid, she played Janis Joplin on the record player, and I am so glad she did. Listening to this version of Summertime led me to a gorgeous poem by the fantastic writer Jericho Brown. Dig this…

"Track 5: Summertime: As performed by Janis Joplin."

God’s got his eye on me, but I ain’t a sparrow. I’m more like a lawn mower . . . no, a chainsaw, Anything that might mangle each manicured lawn In Port Arthur, a place I wouldn’t return to If the mayor offered me every ounce of oil My daddy cans at the refinery. My voice, I mean, Ain’t sweet. Nothing nice about it. It won’t fly Even with Jesus watching. I don’t believe in Jesus. The Baxter boys climbed a tree just to throw Persimmons at me. The good and perfect gifts From above hit like lightning, leave bruises. So I lied—I believe, but I don’t think God Likes me. The girls in the locker room slapped Dirty pads across my face. They called me Bitch, but I never bit back. I ain’t a dog. Chainsaw, I say. My voice hacks at you. I bet I tear my throat. I try so hard to sound jagged. I get high and say one thing so many times Like Willie Baker who worked across the street— Repeated, Please. School out, summertime And the living lashed, Mama said I should be Thankful, that the town’s worse to coloreds Than they are to me, that I’d grow out of my acne. God must love Willie Baker—all that leather and still A please that sounds like music. See. I wouldn’t know a sparrow from a mockingbird. The band plays. I just belt out, Please. This tune Ain’t half the blues. I should be thankful. I get high and moan like a lawn mower So nobody notices I’m such an ugly girl. I’m such an ugly girl. I try to sing like a man Boys call, boy. I turn my face to God. I pray. I wish I could pour oil on everything green in Port Arthur.

Brown, Jericho. "Track 5: Summertime: As performed by Janis Joplin." Callaloo, vol. 32 no. 1, 2009, p. 72-72. Project MUSE, doi:10.1353/cal.0.0298.

In the studio lately

I’ve been working on some new things including some paintings, prints and drawings. Here’s a peak at what’ve been up to lately.

Sketchbook DrawingInk on paper, 16 x 9 inches
Sketchbook DrawingInk on paper, 16 x 9 inches
Vanitas #20 (Ted, Red, Flowers)Silkscreen, on cotton rag paper, 22 x 28 inches, 2022. Edition
Vanitas #19 (Tomtomtom Orange)Silkscreen, on paper, 18 x 39 inches, monoprint © 2022
Vanitas 65, (Stilitano)30 x 22 inches, silkscreen on cotton rag paper, 2022 edition 1/3
Ganymede2022, Oil on canvas, 40 x 32 inches
Mmm GoodOil on canvas, 39.25x31.5 inches, 2021

Andrew on the Large Glass

I'm pleased to share with you that on Tuesday July 5th 2022, at 8pm (eastern standard time) I was invited to join a lively discussion about art, life, and some things I've been working on in the studio. It was hosted live on Twitch, YouTube and Facebook

 To learn more about the show thelargeglass.org

Exhibition: Soniashnyk/Sunflowers

Please join us for an exhibition of artists and makers offering their work for sale in support of Ukrainian Refugees held in conjunction with Open Studios | Ukraine Benefit at The Clemente on Saturday, May 21 from 4-8p and Sunday, May 22, 2022 from 2-6p.

The Soniashnyk/Sunflowers exhibition takes place in Room 406 at The Clemente, located on Manhattan’s Lower East Side 107 Suffolk Street, Studio 406, New York, NY 10002 (Between Rivington & Delancey Streets. Subway: F, M, J, Z to Delancey/Essex)

  

Evoking the sunflower as a symbol of peace and solidarity with the Ukrainian people, Soniashnyk (Ukrainian for ‘sunflowers’) is a group exhibition of ceramics, prints, and paintings organized by The Arts & Crafts Research Studio. A significant portion of each sale will be donated to World Central Kitchen, an organization that is directly supporting refugees of the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

Curated by the Arts + Crafts Research Studio.

Participating artists include Kelly Chang, Julien Gardair, Aya Natalia Karpińska, Hee Chan Kim, Sam Linguist, Andrew Cornell Robinson, Russ Spitkovsky, Frederic Tuten, Miguel Villalobos, and Integrated Makers Collab (a ceramic sculptural collaboration between thirty-two students of Parsons School of Design and the Arts & Crafts Research Studio). Lucas Benoit, Melanie Calabrese, Cindy Cao, Saumya Choksey, Jacqueline Clayton, Janay Davison, Cece Deming-Bernstein, Marcello Flutie, Zoe Frangos, Joshua Frizell, Carlo Hatke, Ellis Herz, Aryan Jaglan, Weston Kear, Yasemin Kurttepeli, Xingtao Liu, Jorge Lopez-Doria, Amanda Lugo, Thomas Mathieu, Presley Nguyen, Mateus O'Donnell, Henry Pakenham, Katie Parsons, Aidan Reinhold, Ahana Sharma, Quincy Sileo, Chloe Trachtenberg, Edmund Trang, Shelby Tse, Ciara Gabrielle Uysipuo, Defne Uzelli, Jiayi Wang.

This exhibition coincides with the 25th edition of The Clemente Open Studios

The Clemente Soto Velez Cultural & Educational Center, Artists Alliance Inc., and the Clemente Residents are pleased to announce the 25th edition of The Clemente Open Studios on Saturday, May 21 from 4-8p and Sunday, May 22, 2022 from 2-6p. 

Housing more than 46 visual artists’ studios and 11 visual and performing arts organizations, the Clemente community is thrilled to welcome friends, colleagues, and neighbors back into their home on the Lower East Side. The public is invited to explore this multigenerational community of artists, some of whom have lived and worked in the neighborhood for more than two decades, and residents of participating residency programs. All events are FREE and open to the public. See the press release for a complete schedule of performances, events, and a guide to artist studios and exhibitions.

Related Links

Exhibition: Guttenberg Arts

Join us on Saturday April 2nd for Wunderkammer, an exhibition of work by Andrew Cornell Robinson and Karen Leo at Guttenberg Arts, 6903 Jackson Street, Guttenberg, NJ 07093
April 2, 2022 - May 1, 2022; Opening Saturday April 2nd, 2022.
Schedule your visit by going to www.guttenbergarts.org/exhibitions
For more information please contact matt@guttenbergarts.org or 201-868-8585
Guttenberg Art Gallery is free and open to the public by appointment only. www.guttenbergarts.org

My Cup Runneth Over IVGlazed and raku fired ceramic with enamel, plastic, glitter, and gold leaf

During his time at Guttenberg Arts, New York-based artist Andrew Cornell Robinson (b. 1968, Camden, NJ) has methodically drawn, modeled, carved, cast, printed, and created a layered network of queer and peculiar artifacts and images exploring history, memory, erasure, brokenness, and repair. Robinson’s work during the residency reflects on these themes through a series of layered prints, and ceramic forms that introduce an ad-hoc kintsugi (the Japanese art of repair with gold and lacquer) with the use of DIY materials (duct-tape, epoxy, plastic, spit, gold, glitter, and glue), combining collage and drawing onto a painterly and fragmentary surface. By interrogating collage and traditional methods of making, Robinson made room for a new vocabulary embedding his personal and queer histories through layering and obfuscation.

Robinson reflects on his work: “Drawing upon notions of brokenness, of seeing the world, or ourselves just as we are, and finding some acceptance of that imperfect humanity have emerged in my work. Initially I was drawn to Kintsugi, a tradition that celebrates the fix. This Japanese art of repairing broken ceramic by mending the fragments with lacquer mixed with powdered gold, likely arose during the fifteenth century when shogun Ashikaga Yoshimasa broke a favorite celadon tea bowl. This bowl was sent for repair and returned with its fragments pieced together with iron staples as was the custom at that time. The result was an unsightly repair, and Ashikaga turned to some local Japanese craftsmen who filled the cracks and fragments with lacquer and gold powder, accentuating the breakage with something precious. Kintsugi transforms something broken into something renewed; its mended cracks reveal its unique character and accentuates its aesthetic appeal through the acceptance of its shortcomings. My appropriation and adaptation of this approach to repair, is probably closer to the tinkering traditions of my grandfather who was always making or fixing something. As he would say, “…a bit of spit and glue will do nicely.” 

Robinson’s residency led him to explore new work at the intersection of printmaking and ceramics. He uses hand built and wheel formed porcelain that is then cut, carved, and covered with custom silkscreened decals. The glazed and fired works are in some cases broken, or cracked, and an adhoc repair of these objects result in renewed artifacts and enigmatic narratives. The decal and surface imagery pollute the form, and is eerily detached from the objects, like the asynchronous imposition of graffiti over an edifice. These ceramic forms are presented along with a series of painterly prints built up with layered images abstracted figures and obscured portraits. 

Craft and Cultural Intersections

Community: Craft Exchanges from Haiti and United States

Donna Karan and the Design, Organization, Training Center, and Parsons School of Design invited Andrew Cornell Robinson to collaborate with Haitian artisans in the design of a new ceramic studio in Port-au-Prince. After the successful launch of the studio, Andrew was approached by a Yoruba priest who commissioned him to use locally harvested clays from Haiti and the United States to create a water vessel for the deity Olokun. Inspired by this creative challenge, Andrew created multiple offering vessels, a selection of which were presented in the “Occupy Art Project #3 – Networks” at the French Consulate, in New York City.

Creating: Offering Vessels

Pinko ISlip and glazed hand built stoneware, 22.5 x 9.5 x 9.5 inches
Water VesselSlip and glazed hand built stoneware, 20 x 13 x 13 inches
Blackbloc IGlazed stoneware with epoxy clay, lacquer, and gold, 25 x 8.5 x 9 inches
Blue PleadiesSlip and glazed hand built stoneware, 22.5 x 10 x 10 inches
Citadelle ISlip and glazed hand built stoneware, 22.5 x 9 x 9 inches

The invitation to create a ritual water vessel to honor the god Olokun at the behest of a friend, a Yoruba priest, offered a profound opportunity to reflect upon the function of ritual, history, faith, connection, redemption, and the concept of àṣẹ, a philosophical concept through which the Yoruba of Nigeria conceive the power to create and produce change. Reflecting upon these ideas led me to Olive Senior’s poem, Olokun: God of the Deep Ocean. *

Olokun: God of the Deep Ocean, by Olive Senior

1.

In the waiting room
beneath the sea
lies the mythical Atlantis
or the sacred Guinée

Who knows
save Olokun
master of the deep

guardian of
profoundest mystery.

2.

Shall we ask him?

Shall we ask him
where the world tree
is anchored?

Shall we ask him
for the portal
to the sun?

Shall we ask the tally
of the bodies
thrown down to him

on the crossing
of the dread
Middle Passage?

Shall we ask him
for the secrets read
in the bones

of the dead, the souls
he has guided
to his keep?

Will he reconnect
the chains of
ancestral linkages?

Send
unfathomable answers
from the deep?

3.

Divine Olokun
accept the tribute
of your rivers

the waters of your seas
give back wealth
as you please

guard us from our innermost
thoughts; keep us
from too deep probing

but if we cannot
contain ourselves and
we plunge

descending
like our ancestors
that long passage

to knowing,
from your realm
can we ascend again

in other times
in other bodies
to the plenitude of being?”

*Senior, Olive. “OLOKUN: GOD OF THE DEEP OCEAN.” Conjunctions, no. 27, Conjunctions, 1996, pp. 55–57. www.jstor.org/stable/24515659.

Pinko ISlip and glazed hand built stoneware, 22.5 x 9.5 x 9.5 inches

Exhibition: OCCUPY #3 - NETWORKS

As part of a creative research project and exhibition in New York, Andrew Cornell Robinson’s work was included in an exhibition/intervention along with a group of international artists and curators invited to occupy the Greek General Consulate and French General Consulate in New York City in which work was installed in situ for one month, along with several public events, and musical and theatrical performances.

Project Initiator: Eirini Linardaki
Curatorial Team: Eleni Riga, Shani Ha, François-Thibaut Pencenat, Julien Gardair www.occupyartproject.com

Installation of works by Andrew Cornell RobinsonInstallation of works by Andrew Cornell Robinson in the exhibition OCCUPY #3 - NETWORKS, at the French Consulate in New York City.

Collaborating: Working with Artisans in Haiti

D.O.T. in Port-au-Prince, Haiti.Design, Organization, Training Center in Port-au-Prince, Haiti.

The Design, Organization, Training Center (D.O.T) in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, was created by Donna Karan, Urban Zen, Parsons School of Design, and Haitian artisan and businesswoman Paula Coles to support Haiti’s artisans with visiting international artists and designers and the creation of a thriving design lab where creative collaborators can work across multiple media from ceramic, wood, metal, and textile, to fiber, horn, and leather.

Potter at work on the wheelOn a visit to the studio of ceramist Marithou Dupoux in Port-au-Prince, Haiti.

Andrew Cornell Robinson was a visiting artist and educator, who worked with D.O.T. to design and set up the ceramic studio on site, and lead ceramic materials workshops including uses of local clays, surface design, and food safe glazes. He worked with Haitian artisans as well as scholars in the Parsons Design Fellowship. Several workshops in ceramic surface design and glaze preparation were offered to local artisans. Participants learned how to prepare slip and engobe materials using imported and native clay and natural materials. Explorations using found chemicals such as rusted metals (i.e. iron oxide), to produce colorants and discussions of local materials that can be used to produce surface colors in the kiln, including seaweed, seawater soaked and dried fabric, etc.

Raku FiringFiring up the Raku kiln on a visit with Haitian ceramist Marithou Dupoux, in Port-au-Prince, Haiti.

Traditional slip trailing techniques were also explored. Since many of the participants in this workshop were relatively new to ceramic as a material (there were several jewelry makers, a sculptor, a painter, a textile artist, et al.) we spent some time producing test tiles and created a series of beads. In the afternoon we did a workshop on the use of plaster and alginate to produce various molds for casting, stamping and press molding clay. Additionally, we did a series of printing and slip transfer techniques including stenciling, block printing, and silk-screening colored clay onto clay surface slabs.

Casting workhshopPreparing to create a plaster cast of a large leaf
Plaster sprig moldA plaster sprig/stamp mold created for a casting workshop.

The second day participants learned about low fire earthenware glazes. The students mixed tin glazes and developed several colored over glazes using various oxides and stains. In the morning we explored different glazing techniques by glazing about a dozen bisque ware vessels and plates. In the afternoon we explored various production techniques on the pottery wheel including throwing fundamentals, as well as some “tricks of the trade” for production work including forming, warp and crack prevention, sgraffito and finishing.

Pottery throwing demonstrationHaitian ceramist Marithou Dupoux, and other workshop participants at D.O.T. in Port-au-Prince, Haiti.
Ceramic Materials WorkshopAndrew Cornell Robinson, Marithou Dupoux, and other workshop participants at D.O.T. in Port-au-Prince, Haiti.