Recognizing our own spirit and meaning

By SHEA STANFIELD

ARTS COLUMNIST

Raku pottery, the ceremonial tea ware made for Zen Buddhist Masters of the 16th century is valued for its simplicity and beauty. 

Today the Art of Raku occupies present ceramic style in stunning, awe-inspiring, and insightful ways through the work of master ceramist Myron Whitaker. 

Born in Kannapolis, N.C., Myron credits his mother as his first “influencer” in the realm of a solid work ethic. 

When it came to firing up his creative spirit Myron credits two high school art teachers, Martha Foster, and Brenda Hardin, both of which he remains in contact with today. 

Myron’s high school ceramics classes were the foundation to a life long passion with clay.  He continued his creative and technique development by attending classes focused on advanced techniques and processes of pottery production. 

During this time Myron also accepted employment with Freightliner building 18-wheeler trucks to support his young family. 

After 15 years in the corporate world of trucking Myron, at the age 44, returned to school at Montgomery Community College in Troy, N.C., with the encouragement of one of his former teachers.

There he discovered he had never lost his passion or gift for ceramics.

Several years ago a friend suggested Myron participate in the Celebration of Fine Art in Scottsdale. 

He filled out an application and as he describes it, “To my surprise I was accepted, so it was off to Scottsdale from January through March.” 

Myron’s reputation grew to the point a few years later he joined the Sonoran Arts League and became a participant in the Hidden in the Hills Artist Studio Tour that takes place the last two weekends of November each year. 

As a result he now maintains two ceramic studios, one in North Carolina and one in Arizona where he spends approximately six months each year working in one or the other.

Myron’s work is in the traditional spirit of the Raku process.  His is inspired by the clean lines of nature, the edge of a leaf, the branch of a tree. The jewel tones of the southwest sunset are in his glazes. 

It is said that the spirit of the maker is also incorporated into the Raku shape completing its inclusive and organic process.  

Evidence of this is present in Myron’s designs by incorporating rare stones, fossils, cactus spines and other unique organic objects, resulting in unexpected compositional shapes and an inclusiveness of the local environment.

Don’t pass up the opportunity to meet ceramist, Myron Whitaker, and experience his dynamic and unique body of work during this year’s Celebration of Fine Art, now through March 24, at the north loop of the 101 and Hayden Road in Scottsdale. 

Also visit celebrateart.com for Celebration of Fine Art’s hours and special event information.  

Steven Forbes-de-Soule, commenting on the History of Raku states, “It is said that if we remain alert to ourselves, in examining the Raku form, we will recognize our own spirit and meaning.” 

Perhaps this will be your experience of this ancient art form, discover the unseen during this season of Celebration.

Contact Arts Columnist Shea Stanfield on her email at: flowingquill@yahoo.com.