Bells for Montana
Montana is a big state that looms large in the collective ceramicist imagination. While living there for one month as artist in residence at the University of Montana in Missoula, I wanted to make a sound. I made ceramic bells and took them to three locations to do that.
This bell was made to ring on Mount Sentinel which overlooks the University of Montana campus in Missoula. I took it to the top at sunrise to greet the city below.
This bell was made to ring on Going to the Sun Road in Glacier National Park.
The Archie Bray Foundation is a residency and workshop space promoting all things ceramic on the grounds of a former brick factory in Helena, MT. I drove out to visit it and pick up supplies one of my first weekends while in residency at UMT.
Some really prominent figures in the ceramics field have worked at the Bray and its grounds are a treasure trove of remnants from these artists. Some of my favorite work out there are the “dervishes” by Richard Swanson (50 in total) that are placed at the most improbable edges and at unexpected heights on structures across the campus. Two dervishes sit at the opening of one of the brick firing beehive kilns.
In an homage to Swanson’s dervishes, I referenced his form in the handle of my bell. I rang it from inside the beehive kiln, where the crazy acoustics at the center make every sound resonant and ethereal.
As a passer-through to the Bray, making a sound for the space was my way of marking how momentous it felt to finally visit.