Artist Statement / Cynthia McDowell / Earthfired Pottery

Artist Statement

Mixing clay, throwing, surface decoration, chopping wood, creatively stacking pottery into the wood kiln and most importantly doing it on my own schedule. I appreciate the range of tasks involved with a studio pottery lifestyle. It is hard work and I am constantly learning new skills, especially when it comes to marketing. When I finally get to sit down and enjoy a beverage or meal from a finished piece, it is wonderful. I think about the inspiration for making the form, surface tools that I used, the kiln it was fired in, people involved... it's really a full experience. As the artist, there is a story within each and every one of my pots. 


The unknown aspect of firing atmospherically really excites me. Whether in an underground pit, soda kiln or week long wood firing, I work with the flame to decorate my pots. I can make the pottery, load and fire the kiln, but the unpredictable outcome of the fired surface can be quite extraordinary. Every wood kiln is different too, adding to the variation in surface. So, traveling to fire at other locations and this sort of adventure is thrilling to me.  

As a business owner, who is now well into her 40's it was time to invest into a more reliable, less physically taxing, efficient way of firing into the future. So, I added an earthenware body of work. White maiolica ware with hand painted designs on top. Colorful, functional forms that will appeal to a different audience than my wood fired pottery. Also, quite painterly at times, which unleashes more of my creativity. 


My pottery is Southwestern in style, imaginative, contemporary, textural and refined. It is unique, functions well and usually references nature. I use few tools, just what is necessary to get the job done. My favorite tool is my hands and weathered objects that I find on the ground while hiking.


Personally, I strive to make others feel comfortable around me as well as in my home. So, my pottery should have an unpretentious, warm feeling too. I like to add surface design using slips, distressed marks, texture and carving. Maintaining balance between flame and ash while keeping surface decor minimal is important. My artistic choices within the pot must be open and versatile to harmonize well with the wood kiln. Inspiration comes from saddle blanket patterns, my animals, aliens, UFO's, western movies, Star Trek, mountain & mesa landscapes and fishing. 

For me it's all about the journey- progressing in craftsmanship, figuring out clay and glazes, firing various kilns and refining my artistic style. I truly enjoy the pottery community, their down to earth personalities and willingness. I strive to inspire creativity in others, tactilely enriching peoples lives with my handmade pots. To me, gratification occurs with a great firing or when somebody wraps their hands around a cup, puts it to their lips and smiles with contentment and wonder. 



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