Michael Wisner shows and teaches nationally. After apprenticing with Jaun Quezada in the village of Mata Ortiz, he has taken the traditional forms and ideas and now makes beautiful modern and contemporary work based on the traditions. He writes, “Inspired by ancient Anasazi and Mimbres potsherds, I began making southwestern pottery. I dig local clays, in the mountains outside my studio at the Anderson Ranch in Colorado. The clay is filtered to remove rocks and debris and then hand coiled to form each piece. The pottery is then painted with a human hair brush and fired outdoors in an open bonfire. Each pot is a one-of-a-kind hand crafted work of art.
Over the past 16 years I have studied extensively with Potters of the American Indian Pueblos and Mata Ortiz Mexico. In 1989 I began an apprenticeship with Juan Quezada that continues today. Each year I spend three to four months working in Juan’s village. Juan’s artistic genius has been a constant source of inspiration. As Juan watches my art evolve he encourages me to develop this pottery into a contemporary form.”
I look at the creative process as collaboration between the raw materials found in nature and the artist (also from nature as we often forget). Each has a voice in the process. For me it’s helpful to remember art as collaboration with nature and not an isolated event by man. Art is an expression of our connection to the natural world. Beautiful places create a mirror that reflects inside us and helps to draw creativity to the surface. This work addresses the innovation of traditional pottery. Over the past twenty-five years I have studied extensively under Juan Quezada and many matriarchs of the southwest pottery traditions. Initially, I was drawn to ancient ceramics by the harmonious fit between vessel form and decorative pattern. Following that fascination I experimented for years with painting.
Today my work continues investigating form and pattern using texture as the design element. I am fascinated with simple gestural shapes and how pattern evolves as it moves over the pottery surface. I enjoy the collaboration with outdoor Raku and bon-firing as they inject spontaneous elements into the work. The source of my creativity is supported by contact with the natural world. Plants, flowers, clouds, any time spent in nature seems to create an inner ease that reaffirms our connection to everything. That connection resonates inside and moves us to express that beautiful feeling in a visible form. I love the process of being outdoors digging clay and forming these objects by hand.