Press and Media

Press & Media

The following are a series of questions posed to Douglas Kenney from May 29, 2008.

  • You have been a ceramic artist form many years now, how do you keep your work fresh?

    I never do copies of my older work. I take chances trying to make art out of each piece. I am always making new underglaze colors by blending the ones I have with new ones.

  • How has living in Hawaii influenced you?

    In Hawaii nature is a powerful force. I live in a blue house, the sky and ocean are vivid. Botanical gardens, bright flowers and palm fronds have made their way into my work some by imprinting and others by interpretation. I have been covering the earthy sculpture clay with white slip. The result is the underglaze designs become more vivid.

  • Can you inform me about some of your techniques, and why you use them?

    I fire my ceramics to Orton Cone 5, 2185 F because I found a low shrinkage sculpture clay that works perfect with underglazes for big pieces. The finished work is super durable when complete after a clear glaze firing. On some work I use overglazes and metallic lusters. I fire these to 1400 F close to Orton cone 017. I do this type of firing to add another layer of visual information and light. Most of my art is made from slabs and I make the plates on a potters wheel. Occasionally, I like to throw big vases with white clay on the wheel. It's a great tool once you understand how it works. Most of the color on my art comes from underglazes. I am doing more brushing and splashing of underglazes than spraying these days. I spray some underglazes though, and usually the clear glaze afterwards.

Douglas Kenney
Kailua, Hawaii USA 1962 –
Incendia Ceramica/ The Fire Works

 Born of fire, sweat, and imagination, this new body of work by Douglas Kenney shows a hard earned mastery of color, form, and clay.  Kenney has forged a ceramic language that seems to fuse the abstract and the human. He has been developing this visual language for his whole career as a ceramic artist. This language is revealed in the imagery, texture, and structures that Kenney conjures out of clay and glaze. They are statements about color, movement, and emotion. These unique visions are clay canvases that convey Kenney's unique vision of ceramic expression.  It is an abstract vision, reminiscent of Kandinsky and Pollack, yet totally original, and not at all derivative. It is a statement that revels in spatial and compositional ambiguities, visual beauty, emotional impact, and intellectual stimulation that goes far beyond pictorial depictions into another realm. This is a realm of pure delight in the alchemy of clay, chemistry, spectrum, shape, thought, feeling, and spirit. A realm that celebrates their transformation by fire into visual, ceramic poetry, that is tangible and substantive.

In an interview on May 29, 2008 Kenney adamantly stated that he wants each piece to be unique and says, "I take chances trying to make new art out of each piece. For example, I am always making a new underglaze color by adding to former colors, the new surprising colors are created this way" This eye to the unique is inherently burned into each and every piece he creates. Watching him at work in the studio, you can see that he is also an original, a maverick. His approach is intense, and deliberate, and yet there is the element of fire, of improvisation, of unexpected movement expressed in his use of texture, glaze, and composition.

In Hawaii nature is a visceral force. The sky and ocean are vivid shades of blue, as is my house. Botanical gardens, brilliant fiery flowers, textured palm fronds, all make their way into my work either through imprinting or interpretation.

Artist Statement

Kenney says, "My abstract ceramic pieces are experiments in design. Finding balance between geometric and organic is my goal, like the ideal relationship between humankind and the environment. Abstract design welcomes a little chaos, so long as it does not affect the craftsmanship or integrity of the piece." The forms, colors and glazing and firing techniques of Kenney's work have been developed over three decades of working with clay. Living in Hawaii for 11 years has put a little twist of Hawaii into the visual language of the surface decorations.

Kenney's original concept of old and new ceramics (developed in graduate school) is now an abstracted version of the same idea. He uses traditional forms plates and vases along with stack forms, sculpture and tile to display this surface treatment. Kenney say's, "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."

The latest challenge Kenney is faced with is the completion of the 50' X 30' new studio that is to be built next to his new house on a 1.81 acre property in the Mt. Helix area of San Diego County. It is here where Kenney will continue his ceramic art making endeavors. The new state of the art studio is to be nestled among 85 foot pine trees on a 125' X 65' building pad.

Kenney's ceramic art is in the permanent collection of the Smithsonian American Art Museum, Renwick Gallery, the City of Honolulu, and the Shigaraki Ceramic Cultural Park Museum, in Japan. His art has been exhibited in many important cities throughout the United States, Paris, Tokyo, and Seoul

Read More:Douglas Kenney Bio