Students from three ceramics classes and the 3D Design and Advanced Studio Art classes gathered in the pottery studio last week for a masterclass in raku firing with visiting artist Anna Mayer. After a discussion with the artist, which covered the trajectory of her path to a career in art, her practice, and a discussion of the specific raku technique they would be using (obvara), students moved outside to the kiln.
In obvara, which originated in Eastern Europe around the 12th Century, pots are moved directly from the hot kiln into an obvara yeast mixture. This results in uneven oxidation and, ultimately, interesting patterns on the surface of the pot.
“We bring many artists into our individual classes. But because this topic was relevant to so many classes, we expanded it to an on-campus field trip over the course of an afternoon,” said art teacher David Prince, who was introduced to Mayer through a show at a gallery he founded, Adjunct Positions. “Even in art, which is very hands-on, it can be difficult to make learning less abstract. Anytime we can bring people in to show a real world application and perspective, we think it is important.”
“It was really fun,” said Jaz G. ’22. “She (Mayer) talked about how she likes to explore different media and techniques from around the world…I really liked the hands-on part of the class and am really glad that I didn’t drop Mr. Prince’s piece (when I was transferring pots from the kiln to the yeast solution).”
Mayer lives and works in Los Angeles and Houston and is currently an assistant professor of sculpture at the University of Houston.