Goshogowara, Aomori, Japan 2002
"Sacred and Profane"
Collage of 3 photographs taken with digital camera
Copyright Bonita Cohn 2002

As a child, I gave up Saturday morning cartoons to go to art class in Boston at the Museum School. I painted pictures of still-lifes, shapely vases with flowers. After class, I'd wait for my Dad to come get me, and had time to wander the place. I often visited the Japanese Garden, a beautiful, quiet place. In a case was a small brown pot with the mark of the potters hand pushed into the side. I was intrigued by this and stared at it for a long time. What a mystery this was, this pot appeared to be still wet and spinning. It was a Bizen pot. I was 10 years old.

 

Since that time, I have become a potter. I am making the classic shapes I loved. I am achieving that surface in the wood kilns I have been privileged to use to produce my pottery. Now, more than ever, this influence has channeled through me. I live in San Francisco, on the Pacific Rim, alive with plate tectonics and Asian art. I fire in wood burning kilns, inspired by the traditional processes of ancient kilns.

I make stoneware pottery for daily use. My glazes are simple, elegant, red, green, bronze, black, some comprised of materials found locally, like wood ash and clay. Many of my tea bowls are made of naturally occurring California clay found near the site of an old gold mine near Nevada City, Malakoff Diggins. In addition to firing my own work in gas kilns, I have been firing pots and photographing more than 28 woodfirings since 1985. I have participated in 11 wood firings with Dick Hotchkiss, at the Grass Valley noborigama, one of the largest climbing kilns outside Japan. I have fired in Nolan Babin's anagama kiln at Concow, California. For two years, I was privileged to be part of the regular crew at Hiroshi Ogawa's Hikarigama (Illuminated Kiln),
an anagama with noborigama salt, at Elkton, Oregon.
Since 1997, I have been wood-firing at Richard Carter's kiln in Napa, and Pope Valley, California.
These five day firings are held two or three times a year. making the work, simple and utilitarian though it may be, unique and rare.

When home in San Francisco, I teach "As The Wheel Turns" to adults at Ruby's Clay Studio and the San Francisco Jewish Community Center. I exhibit with the California Association of Clay and Glass Artists (ACGA) and the Baulines Craft Guild.