Thursday, August 29, 2013

99 BOTTLES: Chatting with Curator Jason Bige Burnett

What inspired you to curate the 99 Bottles Show?
"99 Bottles is an extension of the show Interpreting the Cup I did with Crimson Laurel in 2011. I wanted to use the same criteria that I used for that show by starting with an object we are all are familiar with, one that can reach a wide audience from those that are already ceramic enthusiasts to those that might discover a new fascination with the material. The other reason I wanted to curate the show was that I feel like ideas in the studio go beyond what it is I can make, so I try and have practices that extend beyond the studio walls. When an idea pops up or creates some sort of sense of humor, excitement, or energy for me, I think “what can I do to formulate this idea more?" Bottles have a long history of being used to hold spirits, sodas, even shampoos & perfumes. But beyond that, part of the inspiration for the show came from the whimsical ideas of spin the bottle, finding a message in a bottle, bottling up our emotions, etc.  Just thinking about the tune of “99 bottles of beer on the wall” or for someone who has been a camp counselor or might appreciate being young at heart, might think of “99 bottles of bug juice on the wall.” So there is so much play with this one object."
How have you defined a bottle for your artists? Were there specific guidelines or could they interpret it however they wished?
"Before I invited the artists, I had to do research on the bottle. It turns out, what defines a bottle is very specific. The bottle is a container with a body & neck where the neck must be narrower than the width of the body. Bottles also come with a closure at the top & occasionally some are adorned with a handle, whether it’s to hold on to or to hold a cord that attaches to the closure. So each artist had to stay within the traditional definition of the bottle, as well as stay between 5 inches & 2 feet in height. There’s not a whole lot of room for play, which made for a great creative challenge for the artist. They had to think about the outside of the bottle or about the different elements of the bottle. Not all artists put enclosures on their bottles and I think that adds an interesting twist to it. Other than those guidelines, I wanted to keep it open for the artists since some of them are purely functional ceramic artists & some of them are sculptural ceramic artists."
How did you come up with your list of the participating artists?
"With Interpreting the Cup, I wanted to show how the cup, something that everyone is familiar with, can be viewed very differently depending on the maker. There were over 80 artists in that show, so I wanted to narrow that down to less than half that. I wanted to focus on finding artists that had unique styles or that were uniquely different from each other, representing also local and national artists while maintaining a great caliber of work. Because it all stems from one object, I wanted to curate a show that could really show a vast variety of bottles that ranged from symbolic to purely functional. From a ceramic sense, I wanted to represent different atmospheric firings like wood firings, salt firings, or electric firings. It was also important to feature different materials that contemporary ceramic artists are using today, whether it's the use decals, multi-firings, or different senses of imagery. So it stems from that as well as taking the time to really select artists whose pieces will work well together and compliment each other."
Can you give us a few specific examples or do we have to wait to see the show?
"Yes, absolutely. One of the great aspects of this exhibit is there seems to be similar thread of using surface techniques and yet the outcome can be so different.
For example, David Bolton's (see below) achieving his patterns through atmospheric firing
Whereas an artist like Rob Pullyn (see below) is achieving his surface through incision and staining.
We also have some very graphic artists like Jeremy Kane (see below), whose commercially inspired bottle is hand thrown with a use of decals.
And then we have artist Ted Suape (see below), who achieves his surface design through drawing and painting on his surface."
The complete list of participating artists are:
David Bolton, Cynthia Bringle, Jason Bige Burnett, Peter Callas, A. Blair Clemo, Josh Copus, Frank James Fisher, Yoshi Fujii, David Hiltner, Matt Jacobs, Jeremy Kane, Kathy King, Joshua Kuensting, Max Lehman, Matt Long, Courtney Martin, Shadow May, Forrest Lesch Middleton, Richard Nickel, Kelly O'Briant, Shawn O'Conner, Rob Pullyn, Jeremy Randall, Justin Rothshank, Akira Satake, Nancy Selvin, Joey Sheehan, Ted Suape, Brian Taylor and Lana Wilson.
If you are in the Bakersville area, the opening for 99 Bottles is Sept 7th, 6-9pm. If you are unable to make the opening, all bottles go live for sale at 12:00am, Sept 1st on our website at

For more information on our upcoming 99 Bottles Exhibit, click here.

To learn more about our guest curator, Jason Bige Burnett, click here.