By Daniel Morley

CCC Journalism Program

The Communal Fire event held in Marlin Gallery showcased the works of seven pottery artists from South Jersey.

The exhibit was open from Sept. 4 to Sept. 26, with the artist reception held on Sept. 25. More details for Communal Fire can be found at the Camden County College Press Room Page.

David Gamber, the event curator and a featured artist, has been wood firing for 34 years. He explained that the process of wood firing in pottery involves heating the kiln, or furnace, by constantly supplying wood to the fire. The artist’s kiln is located at Appel Farm.

David Gamber standing with his piece “Fragments”

“It is the oldest method of firing, but has fallen out of favor when people started using natural gas and electric firings,” Gamber said.

Gamber explained the purpose of using the traditional style of burning wood as opposed to using natural gas or electricity.”Over time, people started realizing that the fire moving through the kiln left certain marks on the clay,” he said.

Firings that use natural gas and electricity do not have these inconsistencies, but wood firing artists prefer to have these markings on their works.

“That’s one of the things people in wood firing are after, maybe not a happy accident but anticipated variations from the firing process itself,” said Gamber.

The artists appreciate the natural process of wood firing, and “nature” was a common theme in many of the pieces.

Artist Linda Shusterman standing with her vase collection

Artist Paul Serena standing with his vase collection

Artist Meg Biddle used her experiences in bird watching to create her piece “Big Nest”, while Alan Willoughby used moldings of seas shells in his piece “Family of Bowls #4.”

Artist Meg Biddle (Right) showing Artist Debbie Hamalainen (Left) her piece “Big Nest”

Alan Willoughby’s “Family of Bowls #4”

Kent Turtz, a sculpture student, commented on the nature theme.

“It’s a pretty common theme throughout the whole show. I saw some leaves on some things, some shells, maybe some spirals. I like that stuff,” said Turtz.

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