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Robert Fornell (Seattle) began his ceramic work some twenty five years ago, receiving his BFA - Summa cum Laude, University of Minnesota, and MFA - University of Washington before heading off to Japan where he worked for some 8 years. Exhibitions include such venues as Urasenke Foundation - Seattle, Parsons School of Design - New York, The Otis Art Institute - Los Angeles, The International Tableware Festival - Tokyo, Ichikawa Prefectural Art Museum - Kanazawa, Kintetsu/Matsushita Gallery in Yamaguchi Prefecture, The International Tea Bowl Festival in Antwerp, and The Art Complex Museum - Boston. Finally, his tea ware was recently selected by the iemoto of the Omotesenke school of tea in Kyoto for a special tea ceremony featuring top American potters.
Over the past few years much of his work has been centered on work for the tea ceremony or Chanoyu which relates to Hagi and Karatsu as well as older Korean wares. The approach is simple, to find and use materials in a raw state and then to step back and let the fire and clay have their voice, taking the role of that of an enabler rather than that of a creator. His Hagi style kohiki ware is the clearest expression of this philosophy with the materials simply being an iron bearing clay, a coat of slip covered by an ash glaze and then fired. While respecting the various genres of the past he is also interested in expanding the vernacular of chatou as witnessed by his development of a black Shino glaze as well as a glaze he calls "Tengu". As Chanoyu is a living art form, it is his goal to create works which while referencing the past will also function to bind us in the expression of our humanity at this moment.