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August 1, 2012

University of Montevallo will host Japanese ceramics exhibition

MONTEVALLO—The University of Montevallo art department will host an exhibition of Japanese wood-fired ceramics Aug. 6–Sept. 14. The exhibition, Heart of Echizen: Wood Fired Works by Contemporary Echizen Masters, includes work by 20 ceramic artists from Echizen, Japan.

A reception will be held in The Gallery in Bloch Hall on the University of Montevallo campus on Aug. 31 from 5–7 p.m. Demonstration workshops by guest potter Mitsuo Kasatsuji of Echizen will be held in the ceramics studio in the 3D complex on the university campus on Thursday, Aug. 30, from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., and Friday, Aug. 31, from noon to 1:40 p.m. These workshops will be open to the public.

Echizen, the sister city of Montevallo, has an 800-year history of producing ceramics using anagama kilns that are generally constructed by tunneling into the side of a mountain. The atmosphere in these wood-burning kilns deposits ash on the surface of the ceramics that, at temperatures exceeding 2,400 degrees Fahrenheit, creates a natural glaze.

Many generations of ceramic artists in Echizen have passed down the skills and traditions of their forebears to today’s artisans. The customary methods and anagama kilns continue to make Echizen pottery unique.

The UM art department has an anagama kiln that is fired several times each year. Each firing is a team effort with art faculty and students loading the kiln with ceramic items and wood, then continuing to stoke the fire while monitoring the temperature. Every firing takes approximately 100 hours and consumes about 14 cords of wood.

This touring exhibition is made possible by the Japan Foundation, the City of Echizen, Bridgewater State University, Piedmont College and the University of Montevallo. It is curated by Preston Saunders and Chris Kelly, chair of the art department at Piedmont College and an alumnus of the University of Montevallo.

Kasatsuji bowl

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