Playing with Fire captures moments of action, emotion, and intensity. Through a deep-seated connection to the dynamic conformation of clay, the collaboration is not just a physical connection of working on the same piece, it is also conceptual in nature.
Grayson Fair‘s art is about capturing moments of action, emotion, and intensity. Each piece created preserves a moment, a snapshot of himself. Virgil Ortiz’s figurative work often focuses on capturing a moment or a feeling of others–the future, present, or past, and specific to these works, the strength and struggles of the Pueblo Revolt Runners. The moment that Fair seeks to capture must work in harmony with the story that Ortiz is working to tell with his sculpting, Fair must react to Ortiz’s sketches with action, and Ortiz reacts to Fair’s movements with his own.
The nature of these pieces and the circumstances of their creation lead to the desire for a more radical, visceral surface treatment in the form of alternative firings. The decision to Raku and Soda fire these pieces allows textures and colors that are just as varied and intense as the moments they sought to capture in the forms, and just as unfamiliar as this type of collaboration is to them both. Raku is an ancient form of firing in which the pieces are removed from the kiln at peak, glowing temperature and dropped into buckets full of combustible materials, leading to drastic color shifts and textures uncommon to other forms of firing. Soda firing, on the other hand, is a more modern form of firing in which a kiln is fired to a much hotter temperature, and soda ash and baking soda are sprayed into the kiln, creating a volatile atmosphere of glaze that strikes pieces along the path of the flame. The difference in these firings is much like the dichotomy of their collaboration, the combination of figurative and abstract, modern and ancient, narrative and momentary.