Gwen Heffner | Southern Highland Craft Guild Skip to content

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Irvine
KY

To me, pots offer a uniquely human connection, for they are an inevitable extension of the potter's hands, inner force, and sense of beauty. Their intimate use continues a long standing tradition and unspoken communication between maker and user.

For as long as I can remember, I have been a keen observer of nature and form. My work has always been balanced within an asymmetrical vein and intrinsic to nature. The things I observe become ideas that are then either intentionally or unconsciously integrated into the work of my hands.

I love the feel of clay; sensuous, plastic, and capable of recording the slightest imprint. I have always altered the symmetry of my wheel-thrown forms and explored sculptural realms. The whiteness of porcelain offers me a smooth, three-dimensional canvas, which I can color, alter, and make translucent. When the need to draw overcomes me, and the forms respond, I decorate. My printmaking background allows me to draw and carve relief surfaces on the clay. I look at my own woodlands, rocks and flower borders, and patterns in nature for most of my subject matter. Simplicity has always been my compass and my work is influenced by the porcelain clay itself as well as the Artist Georgia O'Keeffe, and Yi Dynasty Korean pots.

I come from a family of musicians and grew up in an environment rich in the arts, as well as the vibrant natural world that is the blessing of rural living.

My introduction to pottery was at Luther College in Decorah, Iowa, where the aesthetic and training were linked to the Bauhaus. After college I worked for a year as a production potter in Minneapolis, and then went on to graduate school at the University of Louisville, where I studied under the late Tom Marsh. My training at U of L was influenced by the Asian ceramics tradition, Tom Marsh having learned his pottery from Sakuma in Japan.

For me this was the perfect marriage of Eastern and Western influences, and it has informed how I approach clay. Creating mainly functional pots, I often alter the symmetry of the wheel and delve into sculputral realms. I allow the softness and whiteness of porcelain to speak, firing the work with matte glazes in either oxidation or soda/salt atmospheres.

I have marketed my pots via both wholesale and retail shows, and I owned and operated my own gallery, Contemporary Artifacts in Berea, Kentucky for 13 years marketing my work along with that of over 300 artists. I now sell to a limited number of galleries nationwide and also from my studio.

My work continues to get simpler and simpler. I am aware of volume, curves and inside space more, and my printmaking background is given free rein when I draw and carve low relief imagery on the altered and flattened surfaces of my pots - a reflection of the beauty I find around me on the ridge where I live in Kentucky.

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