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Evansville
Monday, January 30, 2023

Fire it Up

Last Friday, my oldest son Maxwell completed his sophomore year at Reitz Memorial High School, and brought home his treasures from the semester. Unlike his younger brother who brought home a locker full of clothes in a tote bag (enough to outfit an entire sports team), Max carried home two laundry baskets holding seven pieces of ceramic pottery. Max didn’t bring home clothes from his locker. He never went to his locker — not even once — the entire year, instead, carrying his books with him every day.

Max had told me what he was making in ceramics, a class taught by Mark Shoenbaum, who has also teaches ceramics at the University of Evansville. I had seen his study drawing for the art deco pitcher he was making and knew he was learning Raku glazing techniques. Still, I was surprised by the beautiful pieces that we quickly set out for display.

I love the art deco pitcher, which is constructed with slabs. His coil-formed vase, standing more than a foot tall, features rustic impressions made with the eraser end of a pencil. On the Raku bowls, made on a wheel, Max cut the sides to produce angles and stylized the rims. My favorite has horsehair fired into its surface — a popular technique with potters — which creates localized carbon markings.

Growing up I spent a lot of time drawing — a pastime I no longer indulge in. While I do believe I am creative, I would never call myself artistic. The only subject I could draw really well as a young girl were stylized ladies, resembling women in 1950s fashion advertisements — just as my mother sketched. Max’s father has one artistic talent: he draws funny dog-like animals with stitches in their faces, arrows in their heads, wearing blankets that he personalizes with someone’s name. Maxwell is raising the bar on the family’s artistic endeavors.

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