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    Dawn PANTTAJA

    Portland, Oregon

    ARTIST STATEMENT:

    Of Myth and Lore (two person show with Charlotte Bruhn, November, 2017)

    For the first time, I have created a series of six vessels - my “six of cups”. I find joy in exploring the mythical beings of childhood: angles, mermaids, nymphs, sirens.  Traditionally, I have made only one large figurative piece each year. This blending of functional and figurative work takes time.  The risk of failure is great and a piece may not make it through the many stages of drying and firing. I want my pieces to have weight to them, with a kinship to stone statuary rather than porcelain figurines. 
    A vessel may hold many things, not all of them physical.
    Within them they carry memories of the past...
    hopes for the future.


    BIOGRAPHY:

    I am a compulsive creator-  a jack of all trades who makes her living playing music, writing plays, sewing costumes, building sets and props, as well as working in clay. 
    I am co-founder of the Karaoke from Hell Band (the worlds first live karaoke band.) I also teach theatre at the Multnomah Arts Center, writing and directing for the Studio Theatre.  I'm a time traveler, obsessively reading biographies and pouring over art books.  I comb thrift stores and antique shops, soaking in the past and find small souvenirs of another time.

    I have always loved the theatre.  I was writing and producing my own plays first in my back yard, then at school and eventually working professionally.  My true love is burlesque.  Follies, Vanities, Scandals are filled with pageantry,  attention to detail,  humor and song.  What more can you ask for? 

    Favorite movies: “Broadway Melody of 1929”, “Gold Diggers of 1933”.  “Carnival of Souls”.  “Whatever Happened to Baby Jane?”

    Favorite place: The Maryhill Museum and the Theatre de la Mode: French fashion dolls from post war France.  We have them here in the North West!  Amazing dolls that capture the spirit of their time with settings designed especially for them.  There is even a setting designed by Jean Cocteau.

    Artists who most inspire: Auguste Rodin, Bessie Potter Vonnoh (impressionist sculptor), Jan Svankmajer (surrealist film maker)

    Art movement I feel most kinship with: Tanagra Figures from 4th century BC Greece— small ceramic figures depicting women and goddesses.

     

    MY PROCESS:

    I work in a mid-range stoneware, porcelain slip, oxide washes and minimal glaze.  Each piece is a multi-stage process that will take 3-5 weeks to complete. 

    These pieces were begun by throwing the basic form on my outdoor kick-wheel.

    Then I begin to sculpt, adding figures, integrating the fantastic with the functional.  This stage may take weeks. The piece must be dried slowly, so that the entire work will join as one during the firing process.

    I fire my work for over 20 hours just below 2000 degrees.
    The next step is adding more color in the form of oxide washes and glazes.
    Then I fire again at an even higher temperature.

    Unloading the kiln is always a surprise.
    The ceramic artist deals in science, art and magic.

    The science: you must follow a certain set of rules to ensure you piece won't crack, melt or explode. You are firing at over 2000 degrees for an entire day... lots can go wrong!

    Art: while following these rules, you strive to express the vision in your head, creating something that speaks to you (and with luck, to others as well).

    Magic: You never know how it will turn out until you open the kiln. Sometimes it's bitter disappointment. Sometimes it's so lovely it takes your breath away.