General Membership Meeting
Thursday, May 13 7 PM
A very important ceramic exhibition on now through August 29, 2021 at The Metropolitan Museum, “Shapes from Out of Nowhere: Ceramics from the Robert A. Ellison Jr. Collection,” celebrates an extraordinary gift to The Met of 125 modern and contemporary ceramics from Robert A. Ellison Jr., given to the Museum in honor of its 150th anniversary. The exhibition will present a selection of over 75 works from this unparalleled collection that charts the evolution of abstraction in clay from the second half of the 20th century through the present.
The Guild is thrilled to have Peter Callas, a participating artist in The Met exhibition, speak to us on both his own work and on the exhibition. This is a wonderful opportunity for an insider overview of contemporary ceramics.
A Zoom link will be emailed to members before the meeting. Join us! Click HERE for a printable membership form.
Peter Callas, American Pioneer: Peter Callas began his search into the art of wood-fired ceramics in Japan in 1974. A serendipitous trip that led to researching the ancient kiln sites of Japan brought Callas to the historic village of Shigaraki. While exploring Shigaraki, Callas had the opportunity to participate in the building of a traditional Anagama wood kiln. This experience was life altering. The artist learned about early Japanese cultural concept. He developed a reverence for the ancient Japanese wood firing technique, with its emphasis on natural ash glazing and container forms executed with gestural spontaneity and vigor, as found in the Iga-style produced during the Momoyama period. Callas absorbed these aesthetics and subsequently he began to consider the exquisite variations possible by melding science with art. Wood firing offered a vocabulary and platform that resonated deeply with Callas’ perception of beauty.
Impassioned about, and energized by his newly acquired observations of Japanese traditional wood firing and kiln building skills, Callas returned to the United States after several months. Then in 1976 he built the first Anagama kiln in North America, thus becoming a pioneer in the ceramic community. Forty-eight years hence, Callas has become a recognized expert, acknowledged for his studied interpretation and mastery of the Anagama kiln and wood-firing process. Maintaining a studio in Belvidere, New Jersey for over thirty years, he fires his work in the Anagama kiln that he built in 1987, designed to attain his artistic aspirations. Callas’ acquired technical virtuosity and openness to exploration resulted in a twenty-three year collaboration with Peter Voulkos. According to The New York Times art critic Roberta Smith, in reference to Voulkos ’collaborative wood-fired ceramics, she writes that Voulkos’ ceramic art entered a new phase in 1979 when Peter Callas persuaded him to try this firing method: “The resulting works – large stack pieces and plaque-like plates that he treated as paintings – were his roughest and most exuberant and, in the eyes of many, his best.”
Callas has gained invaluable insights into the nuances of this arcane art form through a lifetime of perseverance and diligence. His career has focused on perfecting sculpture and abstracted container shapes that function as visual records of the transformative forces of fire. A skilled strategist, the artist creates captivating imagery through intuitive control and mastery of his medium. Callas’ ceramics will delight viewers as they connect with his inventive works in this time honored ritual of breathing life into clay.