Dan Murphy

Atmospheric Wood Fired Vessels

Context is a contributing factor of ceramic practice.

Murphy explores how the circumstance of his practice - the clay, the wood, the kiln, the time of year, the weather, the colleagues who help fire – affect the pots that emerge from the kiln. He is motivated by how the specific context of particular firings produces distinctive results.

These works are stoneware vessels from prior firings in Robin DuPont’s own anagama kiln as well as Dan Murphy’s studio in Utah and the Red Lodge Clay Center, Montana. Explore the effects of wood firing techniques: ash deposits, flashings, natural glaze surfaces, the tones and textures characteristic of wood fired vessels.


My ceramic vessels are created swiftly and directly on a slow spinning potter's wheel. I usually work in series, developing one body of work at a time. My goal is to make gestural vessels that reflect my presence in the finished form. This results in families of pots that are inevitably related, yet each piece stands as a unique one-of-a-kind vessel. After the pieces are made most are fired without applied glazes to stoneware temperatures in wood-burning kilns. Colors and textures on the ceramics result from the interaction of wood, fire and clay. My hope is that each successive generation produces a better piece. I feel a connection to contemporary as well as ancient ceramics, and strive to create objects that will withstand the test of time.

Dan Murphy is an artist and associate professor of art with twenty years of experience firing wood-burning kilns. He is internationally known for his wood firing techniques.

His work has been presented in fifty-five invitational exhibitions, six of which have been in concurrence with the National Council on Education for the Ceramic Arts (NCECA) annual conferences. His numerous exhibitions include The Melwood Arts Centre, Louisville (2007); Indiana University, New Albany (2007); Zuver Performing Arts Center Gallery, Macon (2006); University of North Texas, Denton (2006); Braithwaite Fine Arts Gallery, Cedar City (2006); Tong-In Auction Gallery, Seoul (2005); and the Arrowmont School of Arts and Crafts, Gatlinburg (2004).

Murphy was the organizer and the Master of Ceremonies for Twenty + One Years of the Tozan Kiln, an international wood fire conference at the Northern Arizona University Art Museum, Flagstaff (2006), and participated in the First International Anagama Seminar at the Arrowmont School of Arts and Crafts, Gatlinburg (2007).

In 2008, he was awarded Researcher of the Year and Artist of the Year in the College of Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences at Utah State University, where he currently teaches. Other awards include NCECA National Award of Excellence in Wood-fired Ceramic Art (2005), and the Juror’s Award, CERAMICS USA (2003).

Dan, with Robin DuPont, was in Banff to conduct a Banff Centre residency (Kiln Raising, May 30 to June 24, 2016) on wood firing processes and kiln construction. They and the participants of their residency built and fired (x two) The Banff Centre’s first wood fired Train Kiln, named for its elongated rectangular shape suggestive of a rail car.

The Banff Centre Lecture - May 31, 2016