Centuries Collide

It is easy to get pigeonholed in our field. We become known for a particular style or technique we use. As artisans, it is, in a sense, the crux of what we do; putting ourselves at the mercy of a well-honed skill and repeating. A graduate professor of mine called it our "ceramic shtick." The professor's simple comment was a significant moment in my education as it was the first time I considered the hazards of becoming overly precious about an idea or process. Her perception was that this push for consistent craft and understanding of one’s skill through persistent repetition was the death of creativity and refutation of art. 

Perry Haas has committed to honing his skills, repeating a process and investing in an aesthetic that began to achieve serious recognition around 2015 when he became the MJD Fellow at the Archie Bray Foundation in Helena, Montana. His speckled wood-fired porcelain vessels are now iconic. From his time as a student at Waubonsee Community College in 2003 and Utah State University in 2004, he has been widely exposed to various styles of wood kilns and firing techniques. He’s also had many first-hand opportunities to study and reflect on traditional Asian vessel forms that have infiltrated the American ceramics lexicon. His training has included a residency at the Jingdezhen Ceramic Institute in China and time studying ceramics in South Korea. Currently living near Red Lodge, Montana, Haas’s lived experiences and exposure to local landscapes have been used to inspire his interpretation on forms that he has deemed appropriate for the wood kiln. “I am interested in the vertical movement of wood fire: ash accumulation, drips, running, etc.”

The vessels are his canvas.  

From stark white to crusty blues and grays, Haas’s wood-fired vessels have traditionally celebrated much of the palette that is readily achievable in the wood-firing process. Using bulbous, dynamic forms, reminiscent of the Korean moon jar and Japanese Muromachi forms, his vessels create dips and valleys for ash to accumulate, pool, and drop.