In 1993 I fell in love with the movement of flame through a wood-kiln. Its sensuous quality is something I seek to capture in my work with soft forms, full curves and flame paths etched into the surface. This quest led me to an M.F.A. from the University of Iowa. I now own Mill Creek Pottery in Wisconsin, where my apprentices and I work to advance the cause of wood-fired pottery. In 2013 I was a Fulbright Senior Scholar in Taiwan exploring the potential of local materials. Recently I have been a visiting artist, lecturer and kiln builder at The China Academy of the Arts in Hangzhou. There my apprentices and I have been bringing a technology that originated in Asia and has evolved in the incubator of the United States back to Asia. Clay is central to my life.
Several years ago I stood back and looked at my work, taking stock of what I saw I decided where I wanted it to go. Being overly ambitious, and seeking an ideal rather than the practical I aimed high. I decided I wanted my work to reach past the contemporary, beyond style and taste, touching something primal in all of us. I wanted to make work that reaches that which is first in the human experience, pottery that draws from tradition but resonates regardless of when it might be experienced.
In the 6th century a monk named Dorotheus of Gaza wrote a beautiful metaphor for God. Dorotheus spoke of God as the hub on a wheel, and we are all spokes around that center. In order for us to move closer to God we must move closer to everyone else on that wheel, and in the center is oneness. Anything that is divisive and exclusionary moves us away from all other people and thus moves us away from God.
In Judaism we have a core prayer called the Sh’ma. The Sh’ma says “Listen of Israel, the lord is God. The lord is one.” The concept of unity, togetherness, oneness, center as divine permeates almost all religions, and spiritual disciplines. It is root theology.
For my own pottery I want it to speak to a broad audience but to do this by reaching core ideas rather than dilution and syncretism. The spokes on the wheel that I use to approach the center are, clay, elemental processes, simple drawings and line, functional pottery, and community objects.
More information about Simon can be found at: simonlevin.com