Guest Artist Gives Raku Tips

April 15, 2012

Jim Romberg is giving a workshop in Raku ceramics to VVS students. In a 90-minute class last week he laid the foundation for preparing the surface of a ceramic piece, and different methods of applying glaze.

This Thursday Jim will return to demonstrate firing. He is a master in the art of Raku firing, particularly in his use of smoke, according to ceramics teacher Jeff Perkins ’72, who has studied with Jim.

Jim has been working with Raku ceramics for over forty years.  He earned an M.F.A. in ceramics from Claremont Graduate University and was an early student of Paul Soldner. He is well known to collectors and academics for his outstanding and progressive work in sculptural ceramics.

Jim has been experimenting with many ceramic processes since the beginning of his career in art. He ultimately chose to concentrate on Raku because of its significant history and its well-developed and documented aesthetics, as well as its contemporary use as a means for artistic expression.

In the VVS class Jim is encouraging students to be open to their work and ignore any internal critical opinions of their piece. He also showed students how to play with ideas before beginning the glazing process. He compared the glazing process to a complex musical piece or a performance – with layers that build on each other.

In his own work Jim has added many dimensions to the evolving art form of Raku.

Jim explained that his work is an interplay of sculpture and painting. Unlike some artists, Jim doesn’t leave his work to the “whims of natural reduction”; his process is a deliberate interruption, often described as "painting with smoke and fire", that adds a dimension of color, depth and surface.

Jim is inspired by landscape and skies, as well as by the human history of creation, starting with the pre-historic cave paintings in France which Jim has visited and studied.  He has studied the origins of Raku ceramics, and the development of the Tea Ceremony along with its tea vessels, which brings a unique interpretation of Eastern aesthetics and philosophy into his work.  
Jim recently retired after 19 years as professor emeritus of Art at Southern Oregon University; he is now the artistic director of the Eagleheart Center for Arts and Inquiry. Jim also served as the director of ceramics at Sun Valley Center for the Arts and Humanities for fifteen years. He has offered workshops throughout the United States, as well as in France at l’Ecole des Beaux Arts, and Geneva, Switzerland.  His work is featured in numerous permanent collections, including Northern Arizona Museum of Art, Geneva Municipal Art Collection, The Banff Art Center, and the Marer Collection of Contemporary Ceramics at Scripps College.  Jim’s work has appeared in many publications and has been described as an important influence in the development of Raku ceramics. His work is now shown at the Goldenstein Gallery in Sedona.

For more photos of Jim's first visit, click here.

For photos of Jim's return to demonstrate raku firing, click here.

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