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“Women Who Run with the Wood” now on display

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Various pieces of pottery on display at the Sangre de Cristo Art Center. Photo courtesy of Kara Mason.
Various pieces of pottery on display at the Sangre de Cristo Art Center. Photo courtesy of Kara Mason.

The Sangre de Cristo Arts Center currently features a display by a team of local artists, including a professor from Colorado State University- Pueblo.

Professor Vicky Hansen, Tracy Hartman Jensen and Deborah Hager put together a show titled “Women Who Run with the Wood,” which features a series of ceramic pieces specially fired in a wood-burning kiln.

The three said the inspiration for the show came from the book “Women Who Run with Wolves” by Clarissa Pinkola Estés.

“One night while we were stoking the wood kiln, we thought up the play on words, ‘Women Who Run with the Wood,’ as a good title for an exhibition of our work. We contacted the curator at the Sangre de Cristo and shared our idea for a show,” Hansen said

According to Estés’ website, Estés unfolds rich intercultural myths, fairy tales and stories, many from her own family, in order to help women reconnect with the fierce, healthy, visionary attributes of this instinctual nature in the book and this is what led the artists to the theme.

Hager said it was the creativity of the women in the book that truly inspired them to create the show. At first, she said the idea was just a play on words, but after talking it over they decided the show would be a good idea.

The artists said it took about nine months to complete the pottery for the show, as wood firing is a long process, and the preparation was much longer than what would be expected for ceramics.

Women Who Run with the Wood. Courtesy of Professor Samuel Ebersole

Wood firing in a kiln is a tedious process. Wood is the primary source of fuel, and the kiln may need to be restocked every three or four minutes, depending on which step of the process they are on. Temperatures reach 2,300 degrees, which allows for the unique coloring and markings on the pottery.

The artists said they must always be aware of how tall the flame is and how much smoke is being created. They also need to know how much wood to use and when to rake coals.

The artists said the total firing time is usually around 20-30 hours.

Hager said she has always been an artist mostly dealing with painting, but picked up wood firing when she took a class from Hansen during college. She described her passion for art as coming full circle after learning the art form.

Hartman-Jensen described her start with wood firing in a statement next to her artwork. She first attended a wood-firing workshop in New Mexico; but after meeting a group of dedicated wood fire potters, Hartman-Jensen said, “The rest is history.”

“It’s great to be in a community and fire together,” Hager said when asked why she chose wood firing after learning of how demanding of a process it is.

The three plan on adding more pieces to the exhibition for the summer show in La Veta, Colo.

The exhibition will be showing at the Sangre de Cristo Arts Center until March 30.