The simple beauty

Now that he’s completed an apprenticeship with a master potter, artist Christopher Boedigheimer said he’s been looking at how to make a living at creating pottery.

Boedigheimer’s work will be on display Thursday through June 28 at the Southwest Minnesota Arts and Humanities gallery in downtown Marshall. An artist reception will be from 5-7 p.m. Thursday.

Boedigheimer, a Litchfield native, graduated from Minnesota State University, Moorhead with a bachelor of fine arts degree and an emphasis on ceramics.

“I took the class in college and fell in love with it,” Boedigheimer said.

How he got an apprenticeship with a potter was word-of-mouth, he said. Boedigheimer had approached another potter about doing an apprenticeship, and that potter led him to Craig Edwards, a master potter from New London. Boedigheimer said Edwards taught him the traditional form of making pottery.

“He’s pretty steeped in the Eastern (Asian) traditions like Japanese and Korean,” Boedigheimer said about Edwards. Boedigheimer apprenticed under Edwards for the last two years and recently finished.

Edwards has a “really, really large” wood fire kiln, or anagama, said Boedigheimer.

“That’s what we focused on for the time being,” Boedigheimer said.

Boedigheimer said he was influenced by the folk tradition of pottery.

“But I try to add my own influences as well,” he said. Boedigheimer said he’s influenced by rural Minnesota, the ecology of the area.

“For much of our history, people have used simple, handmade, finely crafted and beautiful objects that enriched their daily lives,” he said in his artist statement. “I believe that the objects we use in our mass produced and disposable lifestyles today not only fail to enrich our lives but detract from our ability to slow down, be reflective and appreciate the simple beauty of objects both natural and irregular.”

Boedigheimer said using a wood fired kiln is a time-consuming process.

“It’s not really like a quantitative process, there’s a subtlety to it,” he said.

And what makes using a wood fired kiln special is the spontaneity, Boedigheimer said.

“You never know what will come out,” he said. How a piece comes out can depend on the weather, the wood that is used and the clay, he said.

Boedigheimer said he’s been exploring the ins and outs of making a living at doing pottery, doing his own marketing, representing himself as an artist and doing shows.

Boedigheimer’s exhibit for SMAHC is his latest work, created just this year.

“I was really exploring sgraffito,” he said. He said he uses a glaze over the clay body, and then he scratches away the pattern to create images. Some of the pieces are wood fired, others are gas fired, he said, and all the motifs are from the rural setting – fish, plants and leaves.

“I endeavor to make pots that not only allow people to capture some of that lost beauty but to explore how the objects we surround ourselves with affect our lifestyles and well-being,” he said in his artist statement.