Hiram College

Ceramics exhibition opens Jan. 20 at Hiram College’s Gelbke Gallery


“Fired in Freedom,” a showcase of ceramic works from nearly 20 artists, runs Jan. 20 to Feb. 22 at the Hiram College Gelbke Fine Art Gallery, 12000 Winrock Road, Hiram. A public reception with the artists will be held 5-7 p.m., Jan. 20.

The exhibition features ceramic pots and sculptures that were fired in the Freedom Township wood-fired kiln. The artists range from university professors and independent ceramicists to students and nationally recognized artists.

“They are united in their affection for the special effects that only wood-firing imparts to their work,” says Christopher Ryan, associate professor of art.

In 2011, Brinsley Tyrrell and two friends, Megan Tuttle and John Klassen, decided to build a wood-fueled ceramic kiln on Tyrrel’s Freedom Township farm using old refractory bricks that they found buried in the hillside near Strasburg, Ohio. They designed and built a catenary arch kiln. With help from Kent State University graduate students, they first fired the kiln in 2012.  Those who were present for the occasion describe it as an instant success: The kiln fired easily, reached high temperatures and produced beautiful effects.

While this original kiln worked well artistically, it developed structural defects and safety hazards after 33 firings. Consequently, a group of artists demolished the old kiln, cleaned and salvaged its bricks, and built a new, larger kiln in summer 2016. The new kiln features two chambers, one of which is salted. This Hiram exhibition contains works produced from both kilns.