Sean Kunz

Glaciers and Lakes - Ritual and Conservation

The theme of glaciers and lakes has spurred Sean Kunz to produce a series of pots specifically related to water, its conservation, and its use. The Series incorporates historic themes around ritual water vessels as well as contemporary features on filtration and water use. Just for fun think about northern lights and birds too.

Artist Statement

As a potter making functional work, I am challenged by both aesthetic and ergonomic considerations. A robust pot that works well is more likely to be used on a daily basis. That means paying particular attention to lid, spout and handle, the important detail that make handmade pots a pleasure to use. The accessibility of a functional craft object that can engage the user on a daily basis is an important aspect of my practice; with a relatively small investment the user can own a small piece of daily, useful art.

Contemporary design objects and architecture inspire my work, along with historic pots grounded in utility, ritual and tradition. I want my vessels to have volume, a generous space that alludes to their ability to contain and nourish, and to have gesture and subtle anthropomorphic qualities that imbue an energy and fullness. I am interested in surfaces that invite touch and exploration: texture as pattern, contrasting matte and gloss surfaces, marks left by the firing process. I often work in small editions, making each piece by hand allows me to constantly refine designs. The forms evolve slowly through reflection, observing the pots in a group, comparing proportions and surface quality. I prefer traditional atmospheric firing methods, such as wood and salt firing, methods that physically touch and impact the work.

I strive to keep traditional domestic design relevant in an increasingly fast-paced society. Handmade objects connect us to each other and are a physical manifestation of the maker’s time, skill, and energy. Contemplative objects can provide a moment of reflection and connection, a link to the past or an intimate moment in the present, shared with family and friends.

Born on the prairies (1979), but raised primarily in Victoria, B.C., Kunz was always interested in drawing and design, with a particular awareness of profile and line quality.

He returned to Alberta to attend the Alberta College of Art & Design in Calgary in 2000, with the intention of getting a design degree from the Visual Communication department. In his first year at ACAD he took a ceramic elective with an inspiring instructor named Gary Williams, who assured him that he could in fact make a living as a ceramic artist. It wasn’t until his second year at ACAD that he started taking a serious interest in functional work, and specifically high temperature atmospheric firing. Inspired by visiting potters and a wheel throwing class, he began throwing pots daily.

Slowly refining ideas and experimenting with off-round and altered forms, he developed a relationship with his material and the glazing and firing process. He enjoys the challenge of balancing functional and aesthetic components and the rhythm of working in the studio.

While finishing his BFA (2005) Sean took on a residency at Harbourfront Center in Toronto, which afforded him numerous exhibition, gallery and teaching opportunities. In 2007 he returned to Alberta. He works and teaches at the North Mount Pleasant Art Centre, Calgary.

2005 – Harbourfront Center, two year craft studio residency in ceramics. Toronto, Canada.
2004 – Medalta International Artist Residency. Medicine Hat, Canada.
2003 – The Banff Center- independent residency, wood kiln firings. Banff, Canada.

"I want my pots to have volume, to allude to their ability to contain and nourish and to have gesture without becoming too animated."

Solo Exhibitions:
2019 - Willock & Sax Gallery, Banff, upcoming in May 2019

Select Group Exhibitions:
2018 – April Feature of New Work, Willock & Sax Gallery, Banff
2010 to 2015 - The Makings, Annual Group Exhibition, Willock & Sax Gallery, Banff
2007 - Toronto Outdoor Art Exhibition, Nathan Phillips Square, Toronto; On The Table, The Gardiner Museum, Toronto; Art Gallery of Winnipeg, Winnipeg; Art Gallery of Nova Scotia, Halifax; Proportion and Bliss, York Quay Centre, Toronto.
2006 - Downtown Urban Design Event, College St. Toronto; Toronto Outdoor Art Exhibition, Nathan Phillips Square; Contemporary Canadian Ceramics, Esplanade Gallery, Medicine Hat; Material World- Harbourfront Residents Show, York Quay Gallery. Toronto.
2005 - Graduating Students Show, Alberta College of Art and Design, Calgary; Convergence, Senior ACAD Ceramic Student Show, Art Central, Calgary.
2004 - Clay Dynamics, Medicine Hat Public Library, Medicine Hat; Transformations, ACAD Craft Department, Artspace Gallery, Calgary.

2006 – Toronto Outdoor Show, Honorable Mention, Ceramics.
2005 – Harbourfront Residency 1st. year Craft Studio Scholarship.
2003 - Shimpo Student Scholarship; Peggy Heer Memorial Summer Institute Ceramics Award; Jason Lang Scholarship.

2008. Relational Ceramics article by Amy Gogarty; Fusion, Ontario Clay and Glass.
2007 - Cahiers Metiers d’Arts. Issue #2
Fall 2007, On The Table Panel Discussion article by Shirley Clifford.
2006 – BC Potters Guild Newsletter, Volume 42 #7 Contemporary Canadian Ceramics, exhibition review article by Amy Gogarty.
2005 – Galleries West, Exhibition Reviews; Contemporary Canadian Ceramics article by Amy Gogarty.
2004 – Current Projects Contemporary Fine Art Review, Issue 5 review of Carmen Schroeder’s Ceramic work, Alberta College of Art and Design editor, Brian MacNevin.

Taking mid-20th C. design as a reference, with hints of Scandinavia, Asia and South America, Sean Kunz emphasizes clean lines in his highly functional ceramic work. This clarity provides vessels that show to advantage his confidence with glaze and his apt decal application.