Flathead Valley Community College ceramics instructors David Smith and Stephen Braun will see one of their most recent visions realized next week when 17 ceramics artists from Montana and around the United States will come together for the first Ceramics Festiva.
The Ceramics Festiva, which will take place May 22 through 25, is focused around alternative firing techniques. Conference attendees will have the opportunity to learn techniques from professional ceramic artists with a broad range of talents. Attendees are encouraged to bring their pots or sculptures (pre-bisque fired) to finish using firing techniques learned at the conference. The lineup of workshops include demonstrations in wood firing techniques and utilizing indigenous materials, raku glaze, saggar and pit firing, sgraffito, building for raku, building a raku fiber kiln, and raku firing.
“Ceramic artists love to get together, learn from each other, and have a good time,” said Smith. “We also like to celebrate our passion for clay and community, which was the main inspiration for creating the Festiva.”
The event website notes that participating artists have agreed to donate their time to teach workshops and that many artists are even paying their own travel expenses just for the opportunity to participate in the conference and enjoy Montana.
“This is an extremely rare opportunity for local artists to learn from the masters,” said Smith.
Featured artists will include Stephen Braun of Whitefish; Bryce Brisco of Smithville, Tenn.; Tim Carlburg of Kalispell; Craig Clifford of Oshkosh, Wis.; Charles Davis of Kalispell; Trey Hill of Missoula; Curt Jacobson of Kalispell; Cassiel Leroux of Whitefish; Robert Markle of Columbia Falls; Karl McDade of Berkeley, Calif.; Randi O’Brien of Somers; Vernon Patrick of Chico, Calif.; John Rawlings of Whitefish; Esther Shimazu of Kailua, Hawaii; Dennis Sipiorski of Covington, La.; David Smith of Kalispell; and Shalene Valenzuela of Missoula.
Many works by the featured artists will be on exhibit before and after the Festiva. Stillwater Gallery (Whitefish Pottery) and Walking Man Galley in Whitefish both have exhibitions open now which will remain up for viewing until May 31. The Clay Studio of Missoula will host an opening reception of their exhibition on July 5 from 5:30 to 9 p.m. It will remain up for viewing through July 26.
“We were fortunate to have many of the artists send their work so we could display it for the community before the Festiva,” explained Smith. “Many of these works have been exhibited nationally and internationally, so we are excited to have them right here in the Flathead.”
The cost to participate in the Ceramics Festiva is $185 which includes all conference activities and lunch each day. Community members are invited to attend the workshops to watch and learn, even if they don’t pay to participate.
“We want to make this opportunity open to everyone whether they are artists, aspiring artists, they enjoy ceramics as a hobby, or are just interested in learning more about the art,” said Smith.