Nate Hunter, Kenosha
2020–21 RAM Artist Fellowship Award Recipient
Photography: Camela Langendorf, Varitay Studios
Ceramic artist Nate Hunter is based in Kenosha, Wisconsin. He studied at the University of Wisconsin-Parkside, where he received his BA with a double emphasis in ceramics and sculpture. Hunter spent two years after college apprenticing with ceramic artist, Chris Gustin, where he fell in love with the process of making and firing ceramics in large wood-fired kilns.
In addition to teaching and exhibiting his work, Hunter revels in working with clay. He states: “Each piece shows evidence of the harsh environment in the kiln. Many carry scars and marks from the hot wood ash landing, and melting, on the pots. This work points out that even though the environment is harsh–the work was designed to survive, and become stronger because of the struggle.” Hunter’s current obsession is with building a new type of wood-fired kiln. This kiln will allow him to paint with fire and ash to produce new and “wild” effects on his ceramic pieces.
The process of making and working with clay is very important to me. Each step is significant, with its own meaning, its own purpose.
Within the Evidence Series, I have worked to capture the essence of flame and ash from the kiln. These pieces’ endeavor to show that what scars us can be made into something that is beautiful.
Every one of these works tell a story, showing evidence of the process of creation. Blemishes from the firing imbue each piece with its own character. The flame patterns show where each was placed in the kiln, as well as its proximity to the firebox. Marks appear from where material was carefully arranged to prevent sticking to the kiln shelf. The colors on the works are the result of the reaction between clay, ash, and fire.
I see each piece as evidence—proof that even though the kiln is a harsh place, it is a situation where there is dramatic and permanent change. Without it, every work would be too weak and break under its own weight.
2020 was fraught with difficulties and hardships. In time, we will look back and see that it was tumultuous but fruitful. It is my hope that these pieces will help the viewer gain a new perspective—to consider their flaws not as faults, but as beauty marks.