Pictured: Five bowls from the exhibition side-by-side.

50 Bowls, 50 States, 50 Woodfires

Exhibition On View:February 12–July 24, 2022
Virtual Artist Talk:April 30, 2022, 12–1 PM

50 Bowls, 50 States, 50 Woodfires is artist Elaine Olafson Henry’s investigation into the influences of woodfire. The exhibition presents 50 thrown porcelain bowls, each created by the artist using the same clay block, the same building and shaping process, and the same glaze coat. In order to explore how firing circumstances would inevitably influence the finished pieces, Henry then shipped each bowl to a different wood firing ceramist in each state.

Henry explains, “The raw materials are the same but the experience of the firing is unique to each site. The kiln type, the wood species, the length of the firing, the goal temperature, the weather; all contribute to the end result. Each bowl is unique, even though it started out with many nearly-identical siblings.”

The porcelain bowls now reunited at AMOCA first traveled from Henry’s studio in Wyoming to each of the fifty states to be fired in various Anagama, Arch, Bourry Box, Noborigama, Tube, and Train kilns, under the supervision of selected kiln masters and their firing teams. The conceptual and collaborative nature of 50 Bowls, 50 States, 50 Woodfires invites consideration of the nuances acquired during the firing process – while each bowl started off very much the same, the choices of the ceramists and the activity of the finishing process leave their distinctive marks. Each bowl is presented alongside technical details including the location of firing, names of firing team members, type of kiln and wood used, length of firing, and more. The visual conversation that develops between the complete set of exhibited bowls is delightful and can be appreciated by ceramic novices and experts alike.

About the Artist

Elaine Olafson Henry is a ceramics artist, curator, writer, proofreader, and local volunteer. She is the former Editor and Publisher of the international ceramics journals Ceramics: Art & Perception and Ceramics TECHNICAL. She earned a BFA from the University of Wyoming, an MFA from Southern Illinois University at Carbondale, and an MA in English at the University of Wyoming.

Henry taught at Emporia State University in Kansas from 1996–2007 where she served as the Chair of the Department of Art from 2000–2007.  She served as the President of the National Council on Education for the Ceramic Arts (NCECA) 2002–2004 and the International Ceramics Magazine Editors Association (ICMEA) 2014–2016. She is currently an Honorary Member and Fellow of NCECA, and a lifetime member of ICMEA. Her work is internationally published, exhibited and collected. She is an elected member of the International Academy of Ceramics (IAC).

Learn more at ElaineHenry.com or follow her on Instagram.

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