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Artist: Terri Kern

Terri Kern, OHIO
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"Kern has a unique approach in her studio, centered around narration that springs from both a depiction of personal stories and her study of drawing and poetry. She does not spend time viewing contemporary work, rather she speaks of her enjoyment of 14th century illuminated drawings and the poetry of Richard Haig, which she has illustrated in the past, and which influenced some of her recent drawings. Other influences she credits to the painter Frida Kahlo. Kern spends a lot of time drawing, recently participating in an international drawing/montage collaboration with artists in China and Europe. Her drawings help her formulate narratives."

Terri Kern received her Master of Fine Arts Degree from Ohio University in 1990. That same year, she was awarded an Individual Artist Grant from the Ohio Arts Council for a body of sculptural ceramic pieces. She opened her own ceramics studio in 1991 where she created a line of jewelry and began selling her ceramics at local art shows. She supplemented her income by working at a ceramic supply business and teaching ceramics at Ursuline Academy.

In 1994, she secured a position teaching Art Appreciation and Ceramics at Morehead State University in Kentucky. While living in Kentucky, she was awarded an Individual Artist Grant from the Kentucky Foundation for Women. In 1995, she moved back to Cincinnati to work as a full time studio artist. In the last fifteen years, Terri has traveled all over the United States and Europe selling her one of a kind ceramic pieces at fine art and fine craft venues. She was awarded a third Individual Artist Grant from Summerfair, Inc. For the last ten years, Terri has inspired art teachers and both high school and college students with her visual presentations and lectures on her experiences as a working artist.

In 2006, she participated in a commercial venture and licensed the use of some of her designs for a limited period of time, for reproduction. That work has sold throughout the US and Canada, creating greater name recognition for the artist. In 2007 she left her full time studio work to work for the internationally renowned Rookwood Pottery Company as a free lance artist. Her work was chosen for the cover of Clay Times, a national ceramics magazine, in 2008. She left the Rookwood company in 2009 so that she could once again pursue creating her one of a kind ceramic pieces.

In late 2009 she traveled to the Peoples Republic of China where she and seventeen other artists exhibited drawings that were part of an international drawing collaborative. That body of work earned her and her fellow artists an international arts award for innovation. She has won more than twenty five awards for excellence in ceramics in venues across the United States. In 2009 she had her first solo museum exhibition at the Canton Museum of Art. The museum has purchased three of her pieces for their permanent collection. Most recently she had a one person show at the Thomas J. Funke Gallery and led a one day lecture and workshop dealing with narrative symbolism throughout art history at Funke Fired Arts in Cincinnati, Ohio. She continues to create her work in her studio in Cincinnati, Ohio.


Artist Statement:

I like to think of myself as a hands on artist. That means that every task from wedging the clay (at the beginning of the process) to stacking and unstacking the kilns (at the end of the process) is done by my hands alone. Wheel throwing and hand building are used separately and in combination to create these one of a kind ceramic pieces. After the pieces are dry enough to handle, their surfaces are carved in relief. They are then dried thoroughly.

Each piece is hand painted with underglaze before the first firing. The blending of color is done by brush work alone–no airbrushing is used. To achieve the sense of depth and lush color, the underglaze (which is semi-transparent) is applied onto the surface of the clay in many separate layers. Because of the transparent nature of the underglaze, each layer picks up the color from the layer underneath it, which results in very rich colors. It is that same transparency, however, that requires up to ten, fifteen and sometimes twenty layers of underglaze to be built up on the surface in some areas to block out darker background colors. When you run your finger over the surface of the underglaze you can actually feel the built up areas. Each layer needs to dry thoroughly before another can be applied. For that reason, several pieces are in process at the same time.

After all the color has been applied, black underglaze is painted on with a detail brush to give definition to the painted images. Some of the detail work is achieved by using a sgraffito technique. Black is painted on in a small section and while it’s still wet, acarving tool is used to carve away the black to reveal the color underneath. It normally takes as long to apply black as it does to apply all the other colors combined on any given piece.

Once all the detail work is finished, the pieces are fired for the first time. Clear glaze is then brushed over the pieces (three to five layers depending on the colors) and they are fired a second time. During this firing, the glaze saturates the pigment in the underglaze and brings out the rich color.

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