Sculptor Michael Gustavson graduated from San Jose State University with a Master of Fine Arts degree, and is now one of the leading sculptors using the unique ceramic style, known as Raku. In Raku, the ceramic piece is fired quickly at extremely high temperatures. As the pieces cool, Gustavson adds combustible materials to his kiln, which oxidizes to create darker, more textured hardened ceramic. While his final products may vary in size, shape, and texture, all are created employing this unique technic. He views sculpture as similar to any other artistic medium, except his canvas is ceramic, and his paint is the glaze.
Gustavson is well known for his colorful, abstract sculptures. In order to create round pieces, he meticulously stacks coils of clay, one on top of the other, until he has a desirable shape, often many feet tall. The clay coils are smoothed until the piece appears to have been created from a single, flat sheet. In more angular pieces, Gustavson takes larger sheets of clay and fuses them together, as if the sheets were walls of a house. In either case, his resulting sculptures are exceptionally colorful, and textured, in a way that begs to be touched.
Gustavson also creates smaller pieces, including flat wall pieces, and vessels. While these pieces are smaller, they are no less show stopping. Wall pieces are lain out to become a literal canvas, and from there he adds different shapes and flourishes. To create vessels, he spins clay on a wheel in a way standard to pottery, and yet creates pieces that appear anything but standard.
Regardless of which Gustavson piece you choose, you will find almost endless enjoyment as you take it in. You are sure to see something new every time you glance at Gustavson’s Raku.