Celestial Earth Art

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'The Flagstaff Live' Art Review

Beauty of the unknown: The experimental ceramic art of raku

By Lisa Di Pietro

Published on 12/06/2007

Copyright 2008 Flagstaff Publishing Company

The lid on the ceramic kiln flies off and Karen Myers jumps from her chair, tongs in hand, to remove her newest creation. She reaches through a cloud of 1,600 degree heat to retrieve the red-hot chunk of clay. Immediately she lays the clay into a trash can filled with shredded newspaper, and glowing flames bounce from the can as she quickly covers it with a lid. Inside the can, oxygen slips away and the clay takes on a rainbow of colors, mostly copper-based. Myers gently slides the lid off the trash can, and reaches in to see in which direction her creation has spun. “It’s all chance,” Myers says. “You never know what colors will emerge in the clay and which won’t. It’s exciting and unpredictable, and I love it.” The clay Myers uses in this process is made specially to withstand extreme temperature changes, and in fact, actually changes consistency while in the kiln. The result is a Japanese pottery known as raku, a pottery Myers recently started exploring as a branch of her ceramic art. “Most people have seen raku pottery, but they don’t realize it,” Myers says. “If a finished ceramic piece has a lot of cracks and lines in it, or has a copper color with a rainbow tint to it, that’s raku.” Myers’ recent endeavors into raku include the piece, “Under Her Wings,” in which a rainbow colored angel holds the entire planet Earth in her belly. Adorned with metal copper hair and wings, the angel lifts her wings upward in protection of the planet. The angel, Myers says, can also be viewed as a goddess since the piece reflects spirituality as a whole, not particularly religion. In the realm of what Myers terms, “celestial earth art,” ornamental angels and dancers are her specialty. As an ex-dancer and avid yoga student, Myers poses the angels and dancers in a variety of creative positions. Each position is designed to invoke a different type of energy or feeling. “I put minimal detailing into my pieces, because I want to leave them open to interpretation,” Myers says. “The pieces carry energy from the action of the form or the glazes used, and I want people to experience that energy in any way they see fit. I don’t need people to experience the same feelings I felt upon creation. I encourage a wide-range of reactions to a single piece.” Myers blends her passion for the planet and her years of dance into each piece she crafts. The result, Myers says, leaves each piece thriving with feelings of movement, energy, spirit and joy. As an original member of the Artists’ Gallery, Myers has spent the last 15 years absorbing the Flagstaff art scene and creating jewelry, sculptures, wall hangings, ornaments, mounted rock figures, and most recently, raku pottery. Some 30 years ago, Myers set foot in Flagstaff for the first time and earned a degree in art education and dance from Northern Arizona University. With the education in hand, Myers went on to teach both art and dance privately and through the city in various recreational centers. After accepting a job as an assistant to a local potter, the wheels clicked and Myers realized how much more she loved creating than teaching. Following a short experimentation with watercolor, Myers arrived at the helm of creating ceramic angels and other figurines as holiday gifts for friends. “The gifts I made got such a great response,” Myers says. “People referred to them as little ‘icons’ or ‘remembrances,’ and began to use them to commemorate special occasions.” The busiest time of the year for Myers is the holiday season. She creates a wide array of ornaments especially for the holidays, which include animal figures such as buffalo and giraffes. Also, Myers puts forth new necklaces and pins in her jewelry collection for sale during the holiday season. “The holidays are a special time, and I want my pieces to reflect that,” Myers says. “Plus, all the pieces are affordable and so they do make for thoughtful, yet cost-effective gifts.” For the 2007 holiday season, Myers plans on taking part in a Christmas art show titled, “Artsy Divas.” The show will include nine other Flagstaff women artists, and allow for both holiday shopping and the showcasing of all creations. Activities including card painting and other arts and crafts are planned, along with food and refreshments. “I don’t know how many people can truly say they love what they do,” Myers says. “But I get to spend every single day doing what I love, creating, and I wouldn’t have it any other way. This holiday party should be a great time, and I can’t wait to share and mingle with the other artists who feel the same way about their work as I do.” “Artsy Divas” takes place on Fri, Dec. 7 from 1–6 p.m. at 622 E. Cherry Ave., in Flagstaff. The public is invited to attend at no cost. Myers celestial earth art is currently on display at the Artists Gallery, 17 N. San Francisco. For more information on Myers see www.celestialearthart.com.

Each Raku item is unique. For information regarding available pieces and pricing please contact Karen Myers through the email link on the Home page of this site.