Gunda Stewart

I do not know when I was first introduced to Gunda Stewart.  I wish I could remember who it was that told me to contact her because I would like to thank them.  I consider her a dear friend, a treasure, that came into my life so unexpectedly.  I do remember flying into the tiny airport at Cranbrook from Calgary.  What a view over the Rockies!  And driving a rental car – some sort of Honda that had to have rear wheel drive through the mountains, south to Canyon BC.  On the road to Gunda’s studio and home, nestled in the valley of the Selkirk and Purcell Mountains, there is a single blue artisan sign.  But it doesn’t tell you that if you follow it, you will discover one of Canada’s best wood fire potters!!!!  Gunda lives on a beautiful acreage with gardens, both flower and vegetable, with her partner Wayne and their dog, Sadie.  Her studio is separate from the house and next to it is her Mamabigama 40 cubic foot wood kiln.  It is a beauty!

Gunda studied with Tam Irving at the Vancouver School of Art.  Her work clearly shows the influence of Irving as well as Irving’s friend, John Reeve, who also taught at the VSA for a short time.  Her temmoku bowls, mugs, and baskets are covered by the deep rich iron glaze breaking at the lip into kaki (persimmon).  She says she puts them at the back of her kiln and in the front is the ash glazed ware, runny and luscious.

Her work is sold at the local artisan market during the summer and at several holidays sales in the late fall.  She also has a few sales out of her studio and visitors are welcome to drop by and purchase ware when there is not a public market or sale.

I often wonder if the people who attend the weekend markets in Canyon beginning in May know what a treasure they have in their midst?  Or does the old adage, ‘You are not a prophet in your own land’ still apply?  Google her.  She has her own website where she features images of recent work.  This was a bad year for all the wood firers in British Columbia.  The wildfires kept the fire ban going until the end of September.  Then it was a mad rush to fire the kiln, load after load, tiring and backbreaking at the same time, to get everything ready for the holiday markets.

Now that the season is drawing to a close, Gunda tells me she is ready to curl up, drink nice tea, and read a few good books as the snow covers the landscape in the winter.

If you happen to be in the area, follow the artisan sign.  You will be so happy you did!

 

Jeanne McRight: A Ceramist who migrated to Canada because of the escalation of the Vietnam War

Jeanne McRight was born in Delaware and was awarded her MFA from the Tyler School of Art in Philadelphia before moving to Canada.  In 1970, after Nixon invaded Cambodia, McRight and her husband, Wayne Cardinalli, along with a group of like-minded artist friends decided to emigrate to Canada, “our welcoming multicultural neighbor, where country property was affordable and a renaissance in the arts had begun”.

McRight and Cardinalli built studios on our 50-acre farm, set up a small storefront gallery in nearby Hastings, Ontario, and began connecting with artists and craftspeople coming out of the new programs at Sheridan as well as other American and Brit ex-pats. They arrived at a good time.  Besides becoming involved locally, Jeanne began to explore her identity through a series of installations.  Cardinalli became Chairman of the Ontario Clay and Glass Association, later Fusion.  Their work was exhibited with the Ontario Potters Association, the biennial ‘Fireworks’ exhibition as well as in galleries across Canada and in the United States.

McRight’s work is often influenced by ‘happenings’ around her.  A multimedia performance collaboration book place at Trent University in 1987.  It was influenced by the Badlands of Canada and the late John Chalke.  You can see it on youtube:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xICXWJNpEro&sns=em

McRight is the woman in the khaki shorts throwing bisque ware artefacts into the cracked clay surface.

McRight taught full time after 1990 for the Etobicoke School of the Arts in Toronto.  She is now retired and has a studio in Mississauga, Ontario.

Her work in ceramics, photography, and painting is informed by a search for identity and memory set within the context of history.  She investigates our interaction with natural and manufactured objects removed from their original context and how those changes and our interactions create new meanings.  McRight’s work has been recognized by the Ontario Arts Council through more than thirty grants and two Canada Council grants.

McRight’s lifelong artistic practice in ceramics, painting and photography explores how identity is shaped by sensory experience and memory within the context of history. I often use local geologic features and archaeological excavations as places of departure, working in sequential series. Also, I like to investigate our interactions with natural and man-made artefacts removed from original contexts and how those interactions charge the objects with new meaning. I am the recipient of over 30 Ontario Arts Council grants and awards, and two Canada Council B grants.

Joo Young Han

 

Joo Young (Grace) Han graduated with a BFA from Dankook University in South Korea, an art faculty that focused on traditional Korean ceramics. It was at Dankook that Han learned by observing the master, Joon Hoon Park, and by throwing hundreds of Korean tea bowls, known as sabal, daily.  Over time, she became proficient in using the Onngi wheel to create the large earthenware vessels used to store water and fermented food such as kimchi.    From 2004-2011 Han continued to perfect her ceramic skills before moving to Canada.  On June 3, 2016, five years after arriving on the Canadian prairies, Han graduated with her MFA.  She struggled throughout her graduate studies to find her own voice, somewhere in the middle of being a traditional Korean potter and a new Canadian studying pottery in a Western tradition.  Today she is one of the rising stars in Canadian ceramics.

Since her graduation she has been a resident at the Medalta potteries, her work has been selected for the International Exhibition at Mashiko and was shown at the First Craft Biennale in Toronto.  She has taught for the School of Art at the University of Manitoba.  Her class on onggi making was a huge success.  Han is spending December 2017 in Korea studying reduction cooling in wood firing.

 

 

 

Article I wrote on three Vietnam Era Ceramists appears in Toplerflatt in English!

My good friend Gunter Haltmeyer is charged with the digital layout of the German Potter’s Association journal, Toplerflatt.  He does one fantastic job, and I am always so grateful that the members welcome news of what is happening in Canada.  

The fall/winter edition includes an article I wrote on the work of three Vietnam era ceramic artists who migrated to Canaday.  They are Sally Michener who taught at the Vancouver School of Art (later Emily Carr), Debby Black who taught at George Brown College in Toronto, and Richard Gill who taught at various colleges but he is known mainly for his large and very complicated architectural installations.  

Gunter sent me the PDF and hard copies to share with the ceramists.  Those who read my blog and my Facebook page do not (with the exception of one) belong to this potters association.  I do not want to take away any issues regarding copyright or sales. 

The link is below.  Click on steggles:

steggles_ tb_2017_2_final

Violence Against Women Day

December 6, 1989, was the day female engineering students at the Ecole Polytechnique were massacred in what is called The Montreal Massacre.  Marc Lepine had a rifle and a knife. He injured twenty-eight; fourteen were killed.  Today is a day of remembrance, not just for those women but for all women who have suffered violence.  In Winnipeg, we mourn the missing Indigenous women.  But every day, women are abused.  It is the time we stood up and demand that the abuse whether it is physical or mental or both STOP.  No more misogyny.  No more sexist jokes.  No more harassment.  Women are intelligent and passionate.  We do not need to do favours for men who have the power to succeed.

Vietnam Era Resisters Research

I received a Canada Council Jean A Chalmers Grant to conduct research into the impact that Vietnam era resisters who came to Canada had on Canadian ceramics.  To date, there are 117 individuals in my study.  Conference presentations have been given in Dublin, at the University of Szeged in Hungary, and at the first Craft Biennale at the Art Gallery of Burlington.  Articles are in press and exhibitions are being planned.  I am still seeking individuals who fit my profile:  came to Canada because they did not wish to be part of the support for the Vietnam War and who were already trained in ceramics or learned after they immigrated in order to make a living.  If you know of someone, please have them contact me at my university e-mail address:  maryann.steggles@umanitoba.ca

The image on today’s posting is Walter Ostrom’s China Bottle.  Ostrom came to Canada because of the Vietnam War in 1969.  He had a contract to teach at the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design (NSCAD) in Halifax.  Ostrom was elated because he would be teaching at one of the hippest art schools in North America but also because he was going to be living in Canada:  ‘The land of Pierre Trudeau, a friend of both Castro and draft dodgers, leading a nation of peaceniks’.