This week on the Tales of a Red Clay Rambler Podcast I have an interview with American ceramic artist Shawn O'Connor. Specializing in wood firing O'Connor uses flame and ash patterns to produce rich surfaces that emulate river rocks and rusted steel. He has a MFA from Syracuse University and has been a resident at the Watershed Center for Ceramic Art and the Arrowmont School for Craft.
As well as enjoying Shawn's work I like his writing about family dinning and wood firing. Writing about his work he states, "My home growing up was strongly focused around the family. Family dinners were important and rarely missed growing up. My extended family gathered quite often for social events such as birthdays and holidays that always revolved around food. I would like to extend this sense of comfort and warmth through my work to others who use it. "
"Firing with wood also came with my upbringing. I was raised in a rural Maine home that was heated with a wood stove during the cold winter months. This meant that the fire was constantly being fed in order to heat the house. This required a lot of work and attentiveness to the fire. Preparing a winter's worth of wood required many days of hauling, splitting, and stacking. This process was instilled in my life from an early age. I have always found the physical labor, the rhythm, and the sense of accomplishment that comes with this process enjoyable."
In the interview we talk about the influence of family dinning on the desire to make functional ceramics, accessibility in contemporary art, and developing a unique wood fire aesthetic. To see more of O'Connor's work you can visit his website shawnoconnorceramics.com. You can also find more about his work through the galleries that carry his work Akar Design, Red Lodge Clay Center, and The Clay Studio.