Mike Stumbras’ work explores the beauty and horror of our existential uncertainties as creatures seeking meaning in a microcosm. These pots combine inspirations from historical production ceramics with contemporary studio art practices in wheel thrown and soda fired cone 11 porcelain.
The work addresses design elements from 18th and 19th century European slipcast ware, but is created with the immediacy and individuality attributed to hand processes and alternative firing methods. In this dialogue between the tangible past and immediate present, the work appears both conspicuously old fashioned and relevant to contemporary concerns in an unsteady American social landscape.
It is the strong connection Mike Stumbras feels to the chaotic and imperfect nature of soda firing and handcraft that, to him, highlights the absurdity of the endeavor of the handmade: the seemingly futile and never-ending quest for perfection and objective meaning. Mike Stumbras embraces the errors of the hand and artifacts of the intense heat from firing because, although the pots themselves may be inanimate know-nothings, they still have something to teach us about the natural and the arcane.
“I place an emphasis on making ceremonial vessels that speak to the passage of time and embrace the propensity for ceramic vessels to be heirloom objects. The work seems to suggest that it bears witness to the ebb and flow of civilizations, of ideas, and of people. But as effigies of ourselves, fashioned by our own hands and concepts, these pots are ultimately just objects: like ashes that sit undisturbed in the urn, and the urn that sits on the mantle. As vessels that exist through time as humans cannot hope to, these pots whisper to us to confront the knowledge we share of our progression towards inevitable demise and our march into obscurity. It is both a liberating comfort, and a savage terror that the dead do not return, except in stories and dreams.”
- A passion for ceramic and visual arts as well as a passion for teaching.
- Nine years of experience as an instructor for all levels, with extensive experience teaching hand building, wheel throwing, multimedia, glaze chemistry classes, workshops and college level foundations and intermediate, and advanced classes in an academic setting.
- Significant practical experience in running studio operations; using, maintaining andrepairing studio equipment, including atmospheric, gas, and electric fired kilns, as well as photographic, metal working, print making, and computer aided design equipment. • Immersion in the ceramics communities of Louisiana, Colorado, New York, Minnesota,
Wisconsin, Kansas City and Illinois, including four years working as a resident assistant for Steven Hill
- Olaf College, Northfield, MN. BFA in Studio Art May, 2011
- St Olaf College, Northfield, MN. BS in Biology, May, 2011
- Louisiana State University, LA, MFA, 2014- Current
Experience Graduate Teaching Assistantship, LSU, Baton Rouge, LA 2014-2017
- Teacher of record ART1662 Intro to Wheel Throwing
- Teacher of record ART1012 Foundations 3-D
- Teacher of record ART 4020 Experiments in Polymer Clay
- Teacher of record ART 2661 Understanding Ceramic Glaze and Material Chemistry
- Teacher of record ART 1662 Intro to Hand Building
- Upward Bound Outreach program Teacher and Ceramic Coordinator.
- Other duties include 20 hours a week of glaze mixing, kiln firing, general maintenanceand making own work for a thesis exhibition.
Resident Artist and Teacher, Carbondale Clay Center, Carbondale, CO 2013-2014 • Duties include teaching beginning and advanced Classes at the Clay Center, continuing to develop a body of work for a solo show, actively engaging in the Carbondale and Snowmass ceramic communities as well as general maintenance.
- Special education ceramics classes for the Carbondale School District outreach program.
Resident Artist and Teacher, Clay Art Center, Port Chester, NY 2012-2013
- Duties include making work, teaching beginning and advanced classes at CAC and offsite-including wheel-throwing and glaze chemistry classes, as well as 15+ hours a week loading and firing kilns and doing general maintenance.
- Teacher for OASIS, after school art program for Port Chester elementary schools.
including BOCES certification.
Resident Artist/Teacher, 323 Clay Studio, Independence, MO 2011-2012
- Duties include 27 hours per week of firing kilns, mixing glazes, gallery and retail management. Preparing work for a solo show, and teaching classes, including wheel-throwing, handbuilding, and glaze chemistry classes.
- Co-Taught glazing workshop in May, 2012 with Steven Hill.
Ceramics Assistant, Center Street Clay Steven Hill, Sandwich, IL 2007–11
- Four years as workshop assistant and part time resident artist for ceramic artist Steven Hill.
- Trained and proficient in single firing, reduction and oxidation, microcrystalline as well as midrange and high temperature firing. Knowledgeable about materials, glaze chemistry and glaze formulation. Proficient in Digitalfire INSIGHT, and Hyperglaze glaze chemistry software.
Ceramics Instructor, Artist-Terra Incognito, Oak Park, IL 2007-2011
- Four years experience teaching teen, preteen and adult wheel-throwing and hand- building classes.
- Significantly increased the size and popularity of classes over the four year period.
- Participated as a Resident Artist for the Annual Resident’s show.
Ceramics Department Student Technician, St. Olaf College, Northfield, MN 2008-2011 • Three years’ experience firing kilns, assistant teaching, mixing glazes and helping around the studio
Sculpture and Gallery Assistant for Margo McMahon 2007
- Experience in mounting large sculptures on site
- Developed proficiency in plaster casting and mold making
- 2017 (June) Upcoming Workshop “The Hand, The Eye”, 323 Clay, Independence, MO
- 2017 (Jan) REWIND hands on workshop at the Clay Art Center, Port Chester, NY
- 2017 (Jan) Form and Surface workshop at the Hudson River Valley Potters assoc. White Plains, NY
- 2017 Invited Lecturer at Nichols State University
- 2015 (Dec) Coffee Pot Demonstration at 323 Clay, independence, MO.
- 2014 (Oct) Taught “Form and Surface” workshop at Nicholls State University, Thibodaux, LA
Workshop assistant for Brenda Quinn at the Clay Art Center in NY
- 2013 Workshop assistant for Brenda Quinn at the Clay Art Center in NY
- 2013 Workshop Tech for David MacDonald at the Clay Art Center in NY
- 2012 Co-Taught “Formulating, Altering and Applying Glazes” workshop in May, with Steven Hill.
- 2009-2013 Workshop assistant for Steven Hill at “The Ceramic Shop” in Philadelphia,PA; Carthage, NC; 323 Clay in Independence, MO, and at Center Street Clay in Sandwich, Il.
- 2012 Workshop assistant, Skutt Kilns, NCECA
- 2011 Workshop Assistant, Arrowmont School, Gatlinburg Tennessee, July
- 2010, June and 2011, June. Workshop Assistant, St. Croix River Valley Pottery Tour atRichard Vincent’s.
- 2010 NCECA 2010 Exhibitor Assistant for Skutt Kilns