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Douglas Kenney Bio

Ceramic Artist - Douglas Kenney

Douglas Kenney - Ceramic Artist

I was born and raised in San Diego, California and started creating ceramics on the wheel in high school in 1980. At San Diego Mesa College I attained good skills on the wheel and did some handbuilding too. I got hooked by the ceramics bug and had a great teacher who wrote 5 books on glazes and firing. He liked pots and pottery and I made many pots at this time in all different techniques, high fire reduction, crystal glazes, raku, low fire. I received good craft training in many ceramics processes.

When I transferred to the four year university there was an emphasis on imagery type work. They had many electric wheels and no one really used them. I did, and made some globe-like non functional works. I also took a ceramic sculpture class and the teacher there liked things going through things. So, I started making these large pressmolded stack forms on poles. And, I did these large urn pots with arms and a clay loaf at the top. I called them Pompeii ruin pots. I graduated from San Diego State University and hung around for two years to improve my portfolio and to use the studio. I also worked in a small production pottery factory making popourri steamers at this time

I accepted an invitation to attend Rochester Institute of Technologies, School for American Crafts Ceramics Masters program in upstate New York in 1987. I figured if I was educated on both coasts, I would be able to land a college teaching job. The technology at this school was evident everywhere with computers everywhere and a strong emphasis on photography from Kodak's endowments. I developed the concept of the history of ceramics from circuit boards, ceramic computer chips and industrial uses of ceramics. I portrayed these ideas with masked off and airbrushed underglazes, photo silk screened images and a raku firing process that mottled the geometric lines, screened images and tied them together with a net of cracks in the glazed surfaces. I chose the roundness of the plate because of its traditional shape and the ability for vertical display on the wall. This subject matter became my thesis project during graduate school. At the end of graduate school my work became more abstracted and dealt with geometric lines and symbols in a collage effect instead of the narrative the history of ceramics. I developed marketing relationships with Neiman Marcus stores and many good craft galleries at this time.

After graduation, I accepted a ceramics teaching position at San Antonio College, in Texas. I taught three dimensional design, ceramics and production pottery classes. My work became further abstracted and I employed electric firing of bright low fire commercial underglazes to illustrate the geometric and organic imagery designs on sculpture and plates. For 6 years I taught there and absorbed the surroundings of academia before my next move to a more permanent full-time artist life style in 1995.

The Shigaraki Ceramic Cultural Park in Japan became my escape from academia with their artist-in-residency program. It was there with the help of the Shigaraki Ceramic Research Center that I developed a process for producing 1 meter diameter plates at stoneware temperatures. I made 32 of them in a 10 and a half month residency at the ceramic park. Afterwards, I set up a studio in a warehouse in Santa Barbara, California. I worked at Cone 5 1196 C 2185 F because it allowed for brighter colors and my large electric kilns could achieve this temperature. The studio was large 35 X 40 ft. (9 X 10.5 M) with a 21 ft. (6.5 M) ceiling. I made many pieces here and developed a series of large tiles that fit perfectly in the largest kiln. I had one large studio wall 39' X 21' (10 X 6.5 M) for display. It made a big difference being able to see my work on this large wall

I had been saving for my own studio for years, and finally in 1999, I decided to make a move and buy property in Hawaii. My timing was good. It took about 2 years to renovate the house into a studio and house, along with a vacation rental, to supplement my income. The city of Honolulu purchased 3 one meter plates from me in 2001. In 2003, a plate that was sold in 1993 to the Washington Post, was donated to the Renwick Gallery at the Smithsonian Museum of American Art. I completed two large private commissions in Hawaii in 2004. And, in 2005 my work is exhibited at the 54th Premio Faenza Competition, at the Museum of International Ceramics, in Faenza, Italy.

In 2007, I won the Honolulu Japanese Chamber of Commerce Art Competition and was awarded a show at Nuaanu Gallery in Honolulu. In 2010, I decided to move the ceramic studio, once again, to San Diego, California. A property in the Mt. Helix area offered the greatest opportunity to expand my art making capabilities. I am in the process of finishing a new house and a large studio complex to continue my ceramic art.

The excitement in ceramics for me comes from the process of making objects and the finished product when displayed. I like bright colors that stand out while the layering of information creates an illusion of depth. The approach is similar to that of abstract paintings but with ceramics the shape of each object and the permanence of firing make a unique statement.