Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Bruce Dehnert

Bruce Dehnert
Layton, NJ

Bruce Dehnert. "Ingot."  Porcelain, Shino.
Bruce Dehnert celebrates the pottery process from kiln construction to the dining room table.  He is involved with everything from the stages of kiln-building to scholarly reflections published in pottery magazines.  While this blog post series is here to celebrate his pottery, it cannot go without mention that Dehnert’s practice includes the written word.  Before receiving an MFA in ceramics at Alfred University, Dehnert studied English at the undergraduate level.  He continues to cultivate a written life that knits together his creative outlook with the knitty gritty of ceramic art creation.
Dehnert has published in journals including Studio Potter, Ceramics Monthly, and Ceramics: Art and Perception.  He recently collaborated on "Simon Leach's Pottery Handbook" praised as "an amazingly detailed, step-by-step text for all major processes in ceramics".  A discussion of Dehnert's writing is included here in support of his stated desire that his pots "visually 'explain' something(s) of the processes that they undergo in order to be finished and used."  This interest is formally present in the finished pot, expressive of his desire that “the person using (his) pottery be provided clues, through subtleties in surface and form, as to the nature of these processes.”  These processes, scientific yet mysterious, are explored in tandem with Bruce Dehnert's vision for the usable work of art.  The form and surface treatment of a Dehnert piece before firing suggests where ash deposits should interact with the surface.  The surface then provides "clues" to the process and how to interact with the piece after  it is fired.
Bruce Dehnert. "Cups."  Porcelain, flashing slip, glazes, wood-fired.

The clay journey is ultimately mysterious, as a gust of air behind the closed doors of the kiln can be responsible for a shift in surface tone.  Having never built a kiln myself, I can only presume that even the placement of the bricks in this process can influence the outcome.  In his teaching positions across the east coast of the United States, New Zealand, and Malaysia, Dehnert has shared expert knowledge in kiln building- from laying the bricks to firing the work.  He currently directs the ceramic program for Peter's Valley Craft Center.