Richard Burkett is a Professor of Art at San Diego State University, teaching all levels of ceramics for the past 28 years, and focusing on soda firing, glazes, and vessel forms – both functional and sculptural. He received the B.A. degree in Art from Lawrence University, and the M.F.A. degree in both ceramics and photography from Indiana University in 1986. From 1973 to 1983 he ran the Wild Rose Pottery in Bainbridge, Indiana.
Richard Burkett has traveled extensively in Ecuador over the last 20 years with Joe Molinaro of Eastern Kentucky University, researching and photographing Ecuadorian potters and documenting indigenous pottery cultures in the Amazon basin. He recently designed and co- authored a book on Ecuadorian Kichwa pottery with Joe Molinaro: Mythical Figures & Mucawas: Ceramics from the Ecuadorian Amazon. One of the first ceramists to make extensive use of computers and the Internet, Burkett has lectured internationally on ceramics at events in Korea, Ecuador, Sweden, Turkey, and Finland. He is the author of HyperGlaze, educational glaze calculation software for artists, and the co-author of the sixth edition of Ceramics: A Potter’s Handbook, one of the most widely used ceramics textbooks. He selected porcelain artists and wrote essays for the Lark book Porcelain Masters: major works by leading artists. In his spare time he plays bluegrass music.
My work hovers between pottery and sculpture. Some pieces move in a sculptural direction, yet still derive some of their form from vestiges of my more utilitarian work. I find this a fascinating interplay, with one body of work informing the other and making both stronger for their interaction. My influences include a diverse range of mostly vessel-oriented forms, from the often mysterious chemical glassware and porcelain I grew up with in my father’s early 1900s-era chemical laboratory, to ancient South American pottery, to odd bits of farm equipment from my grandfather’s farm, and the industrial detritus that litters our world.
I make porcelain and stoneware pieces that are part a long line of work, most of them soda or salt fired, others glazed and fired, and an occasional wood-fired piece or two. Atmospheric firing is the way that I think when I’m working in clay after 40-plus years of soda and salt firing my pieces. I love the complex surfaces that result from creating forms that will react to the movement of sodium through the kiln.
How have you come to work with Rat City Studios:
It’s not just that I love my Rat City t-shirt! I’ve known Deb Schwartzkopf for about fifteen years now since she arrived at San Diego State University for a year as an artist-in-residence & studio tech. I’ve followed her work through the following years. It was a treat to join the studio’s 2016 Build or Bust: Teapots weekend workshop event and a wonderful weekend filled with meeting new friends and seeing firsthand what a great studio and life Deb has built.