The Red and the Black: Art & Science of Iron-Bearing Ceramic Surfaces

HM red cup stitched EDF stripe 4 188x

Sunday 8 October, 2017 – Stanford University

The aim of this symposium was to bring together artists, scientists and humanists for presentations and discussions on interdisciplinary topics related to spontaneous color development on ceramic surfaces in atmospheric firings. We focused mainly on the spectrum of visual qualities delivered by iron-bearing clays. The presenters, panelists and attendees addressed questions such as the following: What is our modern scientific understanding of phenomena such as “flashing” and the so-called reduction-cool reds? What are the expressive qualities of ceramic surface colors/tonalities of the iron spectrum and how can they be exploited in functional and sculptural work? How did ancient cultures — from which we inherited ceramic traditions – utilize vividly colored natural materials in creating ceremonial and utilitarian artifacts?

Contemporary ceramic work brought by invited speakers, panelists and guests was displayed at the symposium venue. Selected items are now on view in the Stanford Archaeology Center and in the SNSF basement-level hallway between Huang and Spilker.

Seven invited presentations were delivered by the invited speakers:

Eleni Aloupi-Siotis: Analysis and reproduction of classical Athenian ceramics

Ted Neal: Artist talk

Minoru Fukuhara and Yoshihiro Kusano: Science in the art of the master Bizen potter
(Note that a video clip was cut from this presentation; the video may be viewed separately at this link.)

Tom Sisson: Experimental petrology

Elodie Dupey García: Aztec reds: Thinking color through materiality in a Pre-Columbian society

David Peters: Artist talk

Dan Murphy: Artist talk (with an extra segment by Hideo Mabuchi on joint work)

The day concluded with an all-inclusive discussion led by our invited panelists.

Huge thanks to Kevin Bass, Chris Watt, Antra Sinha, Adam Lefebvre, Megan Thomas and especially Sarah Logan for helping with the symposium logistics!

Speaker Bios

Eleni Aloupi-Siotis
, holds a PhD in Analytical Chemistry based on research on archaeological ceramics at the Inst. of Materials Science (NCSR Demokritos, Athens/ Univ. of Ioannina, 1993). Since then she has worked as Research Associate at the Laboratory of Archaeometry (NCSR Demokritos, 1992-93), the CRIAA (Univ. Bordeaux, 1994) and she has collaborated with research laboratories in Greece and abroad (AGLAE at the Louvre Museum 1994, Inst. Of Theoretical and Physical Chemistry NHRF Athens 2003-2006, BLIX_ Berlin Laboratory for Innovative X-ray applications- TU Berlin 2009-2012). She participated, as elected member, in the Board of the Hellenic Society for Archeometry (1993- 2006 and 2009) and for the period 2001-2005 she was Adjunct Professor at the Archaeology Department (Univ. of Thessaly) teaching Archaeometry. Since 1997 she works as Forensic Expert appointed to the Court of Appeals (Ministry of Justice). She has initiated, co-ordinates and participates in research programmes on ancient ceramic technology, including scientific analysis of ancient techniques and artefacts in conjunction with laboratory reproduction which are funded by non-profit organisations, the Greek Ministry of Development and the EU. In 1999 she created Thetis Authentics Ltd (Athens, Greece,, offering consulting in matters of authenticity and provenance of archaeological artefacts and works of art. Thetis is also specialising in technologically authentic reproduction of ceramics based on ancient manufacturing techniques and materials.

Élodie Dupey García
currently serves as a researcher in Mesoamerican history at the Instituto de Investigaciones Históricas of the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México in Mexico City. She received her Ph.D. in the history of religions at the École Pratique des Hautes Études in Paris, France. She has also received a fellowship in Pre-Columbian Studies from Dumbarton Oaks Research Library and Collection (Washington, D.C., 2013-2014) and a scholar grant from The Getty to participate in the annual theme “Art and Materiality” at the Getty Research Institute (Los Angeles, 2016). Dupey García’s scholarly interests focus on the cultural history of Pre-Columbian Mesoamerica, especially on the topics of color, smell and meteorological phenomena (in particular, wind and rainbow) in Aztec culture. Recently, she has developed a research project on the materiality of color in Pre-Columbian codices, based on the comparison of the scientific analyses carried out on these codices with references within the colonial-era historical accounts. She is the author of several articles published in peer-reviewed journals, and she had contributed to edited volumes on the history of color, as well as Pre-Columbian art and worldviews. She is the scientific editor of the volume De olfato. Aproximaciones a los olores en la historia de México (Secretaría de Cultura, Fondo de Cultura Económica, Mexico City, 2017) and she is currently writing the book Tlapalli. Color y materia en la cultura náhuatl prehispánica.

Minoru Fukuhara
is a Professor of Applied Chemistry and Biotechnology at Okayama University of Science (OUS). His primary research area is inorganic material chemistry. He received his Ph.D.\ in 1980 from the Tokyo Institute of Technology, spent 1980-81 as a Research Associate at the Material Research Laboratory of Penn State University, and has been at OUS since 1981. Selected awards include: (2005) 8th L’oreal Art and Science of Color Prize- Gold Prize of the L’Oreal Art and Science Foundation; (2006) 30th Award for Innovatory Research of the Japan Society of Powder and Powder Metallurgy; (2007) 38th Kazuchika Okura Memorial Award of The Kazuchika Okura Memorial Foundation; (2014) 9th Murakawa Encouraging Prize of The Sanyo Association for Advancement of Science and Technology; and (2015) 69th Ceramics Society Japan Award- contributions to promotion of society activities of The Ceramics Society of Japan.

Yoshihiro Kusano
is a Professor of Applied Chemistry and Biotechnology at Okayama University of Science (OUS). His primary research area is inorganic material chemistry. He received his Ph.D.\ in 1997 from Okayama University, worked at Kurashiki University of Science and the Arts from 1997-2016, spent 2003-04 at the Institute of Chemistry of the University of Liège, and moved to OUS in 2016. Selected awards include: (2005) 8th L’oreal Art and Science of Color Prize- Gold Prize of the L’Oreal Art and Science Foundation; (2006) 30th Award for Innovatory Research of the Japan Society of Powder and Powder Metallurgy; (2007) 38th Kazuchika Okura Memorial Award of The Kazuchika Okura Memorial Foundation; and (2014) 9th Murakawa Encouraging Prize of The Sanyo Association for Advancement of Science and Technology.

Daniel Murphy
is a studio artist and professor teaching ceramics at Utah State University, Logan, Utah. Murphy has presented his work in one hundred-six exhibitions, including eleven in conjunction with the annual conferences of the National Council on Education for the Ceramic Arts (NCECA) while working as faculty since 2003 at Utah State University. Some of his individual exhibitions include works presented at Tong-In Auction Gallery in Seoul, Korea and J. Daniel Murphy Ceramics at Red Lodge Clay Center, Red Lodge, Montana. While at Utah State University, Murphy has made forty-two presentations at universities and art centers throughout the world, and has exhibited and presented at four wood fire conferences.  In addition, Murphy was an organizer during the international wood fire conferences entitled, Moving Forward, Wabaunsee Community College, Wabaunsee, Illinois and Twenty + One Years of the Tozan Kiln held at Northern Arizona University Art Museum in Flagstaff, AZ. He’s been awarded Researcher of the Year and Artist of the Year in the college of Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences and recently awarded Graduate Advisor of the Year in the Caine College of the Arts at Utah State University in Logan, UT. Murphy has thirty years experience firing wood-burning kilns and recently conducted a Kiln Raising workshop Banff Center For The Arts, Banff, Canada. Recent two-person exhibitions include FLUX: Dan Murphy & Robin DuPont, Willock & Sax Gallery, Banff, Alberta, Canada and Confluence: Dan Murphy & Jason Hess at the Exhibition Gallery, Columbia University, Columbia, Missouri. Banff Kiln Building with Robin DuPont at the Banff Center for the Arts, Banff, Canada.

Ted Neal
was born and raised in rural upstate New York and has received degrees from Southern Illinois University Edwardsville (MFA 1998), Utah State University (BFA 1995), and Brigham Young University Idaho (AAS 1991). After graduate school Ted taught as an Adjunct Assistant Professor at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville. He moved back to Logan Utah in 2001 to take the position of technology instructor and studio coordinator for the ceramics area at Utah State University. (2001 – 2006) His work has been featured in numerous exhibitions including: Earth Matters NCECA 2010 Invitational in Philadelphia, PA, Strictly Functional Pottery National in East Petersburg PA, Forms and Shapes: The Useful Teapot  at AKAR Gallery in Iowa City, IA, NCECA Clay National in Columbus, OH, 2013 NCECA Biennial “Earth/Energy” Houston, TX,  Feats of Clay XXIII at Lincoln Arts in Lincoln, CA, Ferrous – Solo Exhibition, Ann Miller Gallery, Wittenberg University, 40th Anniversary Pottery Show and Sale. The Art School at Old Church, Demarest, NJ and Functional Ceramics, Ohio Craft Museum, Wayne Center for the Arts in Wooster, OH. Ted is currently a studio artist and has been a Professor of Ceramics in the School of Art at Ball State University in Muncie Indiana since 2006.

David Peters
was born and raised in Amarillo Texas.  The son of a wood-shop and earth science teachers, he was curious about the natural world and made things at a young age.  He went on earned his bachelors of art from Utah State University.  While an artist in resident at the Archie Bray Foundation, David began using locally sourced materials for his work.  During graduate work at Montana State University he researched and refined his unique approach to wood-firing through kiln design and experiments with CAD.  He has returned to Helena Montana where he is a full time artist.

Tom Sisson
is a research geologist with the United States Geological Survey (USGS) based in Menlo Park, California. He received his B.S. in Geology from Stanford University, M.A. in Geology from U.C. Santa Barbara, and Ph.D. in Geochemistry and Petrology from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He divides his time between field geologic studies of volcanoes (Cascades, Alaska, Hawaii, Middle East) and granites (Sierra Nevada), and directing the Magma Dynamics Lab at the USGS’s Menlo Park campus. The Magma Dynamics Lab uses the tools of experimental petrology to investigate magmas (partly or wholly molten rock) from their sources deep in Earth’s crust or upper mantle, through their ascent and eventual emplacement as granitic intrusions or eruption as lava or tephra (volcanic ash). Tom also served for five years as Scientist-in-Charge of the Menlo Park office of the USGS Volcano Science Center, overseeing the work of approximately 40 researchers. He is a Fellow of the Mineralogical Society of America (MSA), the Geological Society of America, and the American Geophysical Union (AGU), recipient of AGU’s N.L. Bowen award (N.L. Bowen was the originator of modern experimental petrology), and of MSA’s Dana medal. Tom is a Herbette Foundation Fellow at the University of Lausanne, Switzerland, and holds a visiting scholar position at Stanford University’s Department of Geological Sciences where he collaborates with Professors Jonathan Stebbins and Gail Mahood.

Panelist Bios

Gail Mahood
is Professor of Geological Sciences and a member of the Archeology Center at Stanford University. She joined the Stanford faculty in Autumn 1979, and received her Ph.D. in Geology from University of California, Berkeley, in 1980. Her research addresses the origin of continental magmatism, in particular the physical and chemical evolution of magma chambers capable of “super eruptions” that spread ash continent-wide. She and her research group employ geologic mapping, 40Ar/39Ar geochronology, and whole-rock and mineral geochemistry and isotopic data to track the evolution of these magma bodies. Their work has applications to geoarchaeology, so they are also engaged in studies that source obsidian and the clays and temper used to construct ceramics. Mahood has done geoarchaeological work at the Mayan site of Copan, Honduras, and with the Stanford expedition to Monte Polizzo in Sicily, and her students have studied the sourcing of components in ceramics from the Coconino Plateau and from early state sites in eastern China. Mahood teaches courses in introductory igneous and metamorphic petrology, physical volcanology, and igneous petrogenesis. She also leads a 6-day, freshmen-oriented field trip to Death Valley, and shorter field trips open to all to the volcanoes of the eastern Sierra, to Mt. Lassen and Mt. Shasta, and to volcanoes of western California associated with the San Andreas fault.

Gail Nichols
 is an Australian ceramic artist, recognized internationally for her innovative approach to soda vapour glazing.  Through extensive research, leading to PhD at Monash University in 2002, Gail developed her unique vapour glaze aesthetic and technical approach to materials and firing. Her book, Soda Clay and Fire, published by the American Ceramic Society, is a leading text in the field.  Gail has won numerous awards including a bronze award in the 4th World Ceramic Biennale Korea International Competition 2007.  She has taught at the National Art School in Sydney and Australian National University in Canberra, and has been guest lecturer and visiting artist in Canada, U.S.A., Germany, Denmark, Italy and Indonesia.  Her work is represented in the National Gallery of Australia and other public and private collections internationally.  Gail was born in Michigan, U.S.A., completed a BS degree in mechanical engineering at Michigan State University, and worked as a Peace Corps volunteer in Malaysia before immigrating to Australia in 1978. She now lives and works at Mongarlowe, near Braidwood NSW.

Elizabeth Turk
is an artist, primarily known for her marble sculpture. She received her MFA from Maryland Institute College of Art, Rinehart School of Sculpture in 1994 and moved to NYC.  In 2010 she was awarded a MacArthur Fellowship and the Annalee & Barnett Newman Foundation award. Today, she splits time between NYC and her native Orange County, CA. She has been represented by Hirschl & Adler, Modern since 2000, though continues to exhibit more experimental work in other venues. Her work searches the boundaries of paradox; the contemporary in the traditional, the lightness in weight, the emptiness in mass, extended time in a moment. Reducing 500 lbs. of stone to an essential matrix of 10-25 lbs., the intricately carved sculptures defy gravity. This practice of art making is then humbled, as she abandons and/or contrasts these objects with a larger natural context.

HM red cup stitched EDF stripe 6 188x