I have had a lot of people comment on how many wood-fire artists we represent in the Lillstreet Gallery. I’ve noticed how few wood-fire artists are represented in most ceramic galleries. This is not a criticism by any means towards any other gallery. Wood-fired work is not for everyone. It’s like cilantro, you either like it or you don’t. We currently represent 16 wood-fire artists (Lauryn Axelrod, Chris Chaney, Jeff Cline, Josh Deweese, Fred Follansbee, Chris Gustin, Perry Haas, Doug Jeppesen, Sam Hoffman, Justin Lambert, Simon Levin, Todd Pletcher, Nick Schwartz, Zac Spates, and Tara Wilson).
Why so many?
I personally have never had the opportunity to participate in a wood-firing myself. When I started learning about clay and the wood-fire community, I became extremely interested in the wood-fire process: from the types of clay, inclusions, and wood to the types of kilns and firing methods. There was so much variance in this genre of ceramics. I became a little obsessed with this process and community and started seeing the real differences in wood-fired work. Many of these artists are inspired and educated by the Japanese and their wood-fired ceramics (new and old), while others are creating their own unique voice and contemporary style.
Most people have no idea what goes into making ceramic wares. Because of my genuine love for and admiration of wood-fired ceramics, I love educating customers and students about the differences within the process. It is truly a passion for me. I illustrate what the week (or longer) is like: from wadding and loading the kiln to firing, then unloading and cleaning.
Being in an urban environment such as Chicago, it might come as a surprise that we carry so much wood-fired work. I feel that if we keep representing these incredible artists and this community, more people will start valuing this method of firing and also start seeing the incredible beauty wood-firing yields; sometimes very subtle while other times loud and crunchy. This gallery will continue to support this amazing community so stay tuned to see what our amazing artists pull from the kilns next.