Michael Flaherty
Clay

Breaux Bridge, LA

Studio Artist/Potter since July, 2008. My work is influenced by the unique & constantly changing natural environment of Southwest Louisiana. Of particular interest is the ebb & flow of natural environmental elements from the smallest to largest scale. Travel & study of past and ancient pottery and architecture also influences the work. Through the making process an understanding of the creative motivations of historic cultures & societies reveals itself; discovery of what motivated the artisans of those times to create pieces that besides being functional, contained the aesthetic design elements of proportion, volume, line, form, shape and color, while oftentimes telling a story.

My primary medium is manufactured “plastic hand-building/throwing” stoneware clay that is a medium beige-brown color.  Pieces are turned or hand built, altered & embellished. Once dried, pottery-wares are “baked” (Fired), to temperatures (1400 ℉ – 3000℉),  resulting in various types of Terra-cotta ware, Earthenware, Stoneware & Porcelain, respectively. Firing is usually a two-step process as before glazes (a mix of various alkaline feldspathic minerals), can be applied to a piece it must first be partially fired to Bisque temperature.  The first firing modifies the molecular state of the clay into a semi-hard porous state (bisque), that is receptive & compatible with the glazes.  The glazes are applied then the piece is fired again to its finished Vitreous state.   The “ovens” (Kilns), use wood, fossil fuel or electrical resistance heat.  Natural gas, for instance, is a commonly used fuel & as with any fossil fuel (& kiln design), the firing atmosphere can be adjusted in a number of ways to influence a variety of final glaze results.  Electrical resistance fired kilns are typically fired in a natural or Oxidation environment.  The glazed bisquewarw clay is finish-fired to approximately 2600℉, in a seven cubic-foot electric kiln.  All of my finish glazes are custom hand mixed & lead-free.

EXPERIENCE
Studio Ceramicist/Potter, Breaux Bridge, Louisiana 2008-present
Louisiana Crafts Guild: Master Ceramicist & At Large Board Member
Acadiana center for the Arts: Liaison (LCG/AcA), & installation advisor for The Vault & Vault installation lighting designer
Taught pottery and hand building, USL/UL Lafayette Student Union Leisure Learning program 1973-2003
University Art Museum Interim Director, 1996
USL/UL Lafayette Student Union. Former Assistant Director for Building Services, Art Gallery Curator/Director, Craft Shop Director (wood shop, black & white photo processing, lost wax jewelry making, pottery studio).
Retired 2008

EDUCATION
USL, Lafayette, LA —Bachelors of Architecture, 1973
I started working with clay in 1971, as an undergraduate under former Professor, Tom Ladousa.

SKILLS & INTERESTS
Artist Craftsman Ceramist & Potter, Woodworker, Photographer

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