Spontaneous Dance: the Raku Sculpture & Pottery of Barbara Harnack & Michael Lancaster

Spontaneous Dance: the Raku Sculpture & Pottery of Barbara Harnack & Michael Lancaster, is the featured exhibit at Iowa Artisans Gallery, August 29 - September 28, 2008. The couple's work is being collected nationally and differs from other raku in that Barbara's painterly style and Michael's sculptural approach to form give these added dimension.


Barbara Harnack and Michael Lancaster began working together in ceramics in 1978. While they both have their own styles and work, the couple also collaborates in making one-of-a-kind sculptural vessels, fired in the style of American Raku. They have each been featured for their own work in Ceramics Monthly and together in American Style and Su Casa magazines. The Gallery will include both collaborative and individual works by the couple.

Barbara Harnack is best known for her raku-fired people, often large and antique all at once. Michael is known for his industrial artifacts: wheel thrown, altered and assembled forms inspired by relics and machines.

As they come together to make collaborative work, Michael throws, cuts and reassembles sculptural vessels. He then 'hands them off' to Barbara who draws and paints with under glazes some of her people and characters. The pieces are fired until bright red hot, removed from the kiln and placed in barrels where they are packed with straw. The result is ancient and contemporary all at once.

Barbara Harnack has attended the Arts Students League, NY; California College of Art; Philadelphia College of Art; State University of New York and graduated from Parsons School of Design in 1980. She has shown her work both nationally and internationally, including The Clay National 1987 and 2007 and The World Ceramic Biennale in Korea. Her work is in numerous collections including the Santa Fe Museum of Fine Art, Santa Fe, NM and The World Ceramic Exposition Foundation, Icheon, Korea.

Michael Lancaster was educated by Apprenticeship at the Red Rock Pottery, Red Rock, NY from 1977-1980. He has exhibited through out the United States and his work can be found in many outstanding collections, including the Dianne and Sandy Besser Collection.

The couple participates in many arts activities, including sitting on several boards and advisory boards. They have also founded the Harnack Lancaster Award, given each year to a New Mexico Artist for excellence and innovation in the Ceramic Arts. On the opening of this exhibit they celebrate their twenty-seventh wedding anniversary.

Raku is a rather magical technique where a piece is thrown or hand-built and glazed conventionally, then removed from the kiln and plunged into combustible materials such as straw or sawdust. The smoking and flame caused by interaction of the hot, glazed pieces and these materials creates spontaneous and one of a kind effects. Lancaster has created a DVD of the process and common sense safe-handling techniques that will accompany this show.

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"Small Can" - Raku, From the Industrial Series by Michael Lancaster
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"Spontaneous Dance" - Raku, Collaborations: Currently exhibited at the Iowa Artisans Gallery
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"Large Vessel" - Raku, by Barbara Harnack
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"Split Disc" - Raku, From the Industrial Series by Michael Lancaster
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"Two-Tiered Vase" - Raku, Collaboration by Barbara Harnack & Michael Lancaster
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"Large Face" - Raku, by Barbara Harnack
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