The Japanese art critic Yanagi Sōetsu wrote, “The highest level of craft is when the extraordinary becomes the ordinary.” My craft strives to highlight the beauty of art that we can touch, live with in our homes, and bring to our lips. The ritual of the simple moments of everyday life is where the most meaningful connection to art can be found.
Most of my work is functional— cups, bowls, boxes, vessels. I use several different methods of building. I throw, hand build, or use kurinuki methods to unearth different shapes. I am kindled by the possibilities of the wood firing process, its elemental feel of flame and ash. I apply slip to bone dry ceramics. I enjoy the primordial feel of the natural elements and the neolithic urge to hand paint on ceramics. While the slip is wet, I make patterns in an expressive way or use wax resist to create patterns.
The wood-firing process appeals to me because of the ritual and labor. I enjoy the recognition that ceramics are a process, that each step, no matter how laborious or mundane, is embodied in the final product. Of course, ceramicists can’t control everything. I think all ceramicists, especially those who love wood firing, are drawn to the magic moment where we load the work in the kiln and hand it over the work to chance. I enjoy how I can use the same glaze but, in the wood-firing process, the product may change depending on the mercurial nature of flame or ash.
Wood firing isn’t just about my solitary labor. Wood firing is a community event that reminds me of the social nature of all functional ceramics, that they are literally cups of communion and vessels for sharing. To me, art and life are inseparable. Art is about waking up to see the beauty in everyday labor and objects.
Michaela Bromberek was born and raised in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. She attended the University of Wisconsin La-Crosse and found ceramics while pursing a degree in Psychology. She immediately fell in love with the medium and woodfiring. After finishing her degree, she completed a year long residency at Cub Creek Foundation in Virginia. During her residency she continued to woodfire her pottery, working on the wheel as well as hand-building. She currently resides in Helena, MT working as an assistant to Tara Wilson.