LA VALLEUR COMMUNICATES: Musings by Barbara La Valleur — St. John’s Pottery Johanna Kiln

The firing of the Johanna Kiln, the largest wood-burning kiln in North America at St. John’s University and Abbey in central Minnesota only happens every two years. The 87-foot-long brick kiln was designed and built 25 years ago by the university’s master potter and artist in residence Richard Bresnahan, along with help from apprentices and volunteers.  The latest firing was completed Sunday and will remained closed for two weeks for the temperature to cool down avoiding cracking the thousands of pottery pieces fired.

Here is some more information about the Johanna Kiln from St. John’s Abbey website:

For 35 years, The St. John’s Pottery has embodied the Benedictine values of community, hospitality and self-sufficiency as well as the university’s commitment to the integration of art and life; the preservation of the environment; the linkage between work and worship; and the celebration of diverse cultures.

Artist-in-Residence Richard Bresnahan and The St. John’s Pottery engage students, apprentices and visiting artists in the work of artistic creation, discipline and research and preparation of natural materials. These dynamic experiences are framed by questions of what it means to envision and create a sustainable lived system.

Visitors are welcome in the studio to visit the gallery, purchase ceramics, and experience guided tours. Studio tours explore the cycles of clay processing and glaze development as well as preparation and firing of the Johanna Kiln each fall. While the works produced in the studio are art in their own right, they also embody a vision for a more whole world.

The St. John’s Pottery Lighting Ceremony and Kiln Firing took place on Oct. 18 and the kiln firing continued through Oct. 27.

Bresnahan studied with art historian S. Johanna Becker OSB at St. John’s University in Minnesota and later with the national living treasure of ceramics Nakazato Takashi in Karatsu, Japan. Since 1979, Bresnahan has directed The Saint John’s Pottery at Saint John’s University.

Bresnahan’s role as Artist-in-Residence takes on several forms: He provides mentorship as part of a formal apprenticeship program, instructs a one-of-a-kind course on environmental art and design, lectures and exhibits internationally on behalf of Saint John’s and operates the Johanna Kiln, the largest wood-fired kiln of its kind in North America.

As an artist, educator, and environmentalist, Bresnahan’s passion revolves around creating handmade and functional pottery for the surrounding community. His ceramic works are featured in many prominent collections, from the Minneapolis Institute of Arts in Minnesota to the Idemitsu Museum in Tokyo.

The Saint John’s Pottery
2810 Saint John’s Rd.

Box 6377

Collegeville, MN 56321

(320) 363-2930

Weekdays 1:15 p.m. to 4:30 p.m.

Saturdays 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

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