Karen Newgard uses the sgrafitto carving technique on porcelain attaining a near-graphic quality and clarity of image. Influenced by the drawing style associated with Southern Folk Art, Karen draws in flattened perspective and from many vantage points, encircling the vessel with natural patterns, birds, flowers and interior scenes. She finishes the wheel thrown pots in a salt kiln to glaze and activate the surface of her pots. This firing method promotes subtle color variations in the clay and also glazes the pot. The fire completes the process making each piece a one of a kind
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Karen Newgard at MudFire
Karen Newgard Artist Bio
I began making pots while studying at Louisiana State University. That elective class turned out to be my new career and obsession. After graduating in 1992, I attended Penland School of Crafts for two years as a Core Student, a work-study scholarship; it was during this time that I decided to become a full time studio potter. Penland was a great place to learn about so much more than my craft and gave me the confidence to strike out on my own. I was exposed to many instructors with many ideas that influenced my pots. I find that my pots are influenced by many sources. Japanese pots for the simplicity in utility, French pots for their ornate qualities and elaborate scenes and handles, English pots for their sense of humor balanced with formality. Another strong influence is the works of my mentors and peers. After completing the Penland program, I moved to Saluda, North Carolina where I begin my pottery business. In 2003 I moved the pottery to Asheville, North Carolina where I continue to make pots full time.
Karen Newgard Artist Statement
Growing up in spirited Louisiana gave me a sense of celebration. I strive to make a pot that honors our daily routines with a degree of festivity.
One of my greatest influences is the drawing style associated with Southern Folk Art, flattened perspective and many vantage points. The landscape and the architectural elements found in South Louisiana have also been a strong influence in the development of my imagery along with the works of John Audubon. The natural world has always been a great source for pattern; the stripes created in an empty field, the cadence of a row of crops, a trellis of roses or a bunch of tulips. My interior scenes began with my memories of our family gatherings and my grandparent's farmhouse in Southern Minnesota. Over the years these scenes have evolved into an iconographic encyclopedia that I draw from to create more stories and scenes.
The sgrafitto carving technique developed in the eastern Mediterranean. The images on their pots represented aspects of their everyday experiences. This idea of using scenes and icons from daily life has always been an integral part of my work. Most recently I have been taking the images outside the home and creating home-like scenes for a variety of birds.
The reductive carving method allows me to add movement to the images on the surface of my pots. To further exemplify this notion of lively animation I use salt to glaze and activate the surface of my pots. This firing method promotes subtle color variations in the clay and also glazes the pot. The fire completes the process making each piece a one of a kind.