The Detroit Noborigama AKA "The Salty Dog"
In the summer of 2010 the CCS Crafts department moved to a new location on campus and that fall ‘kiln building’ was the focus of the semester as we built all new kilns for the school, including a small Manabigama wood fired kiln, which is how I became interested in wood firing. In April of 2011, I was approved to deconstruct the salt kiln that had been left behind in the move and slated for demolition. My proposal was to design and build a new kiln from it's bricks one mile north of campus at Fortress Studios LLC, an artist owned and operated work/live space. To fund the additional materials and tools needed to build the kiln I ran a successful Kickstarter croudfunding campaign, and received the funding that August. As the kiln began to take shape it became increasingly apparent that the most exciting aspect of the project was the roll the neighborhood's understanding and involvement would play in the project's future success. I taught a ceramics class at an after school program for kids in North End Neighborhood; they were able to make things for and participate in the first firing and also assisted as crucial diplomats to neighborhood where the kiln was located. A vast majority of the wood needed to fire the kiln was collected from the blocks immediately surrounding it; meeting neighbors, removing their dead trees, and inviting them to attend the firings in the process.
We first fired the kiln in November of 2011, and it was immediately clear that the ceramics fired in it were only the functional byproducts of a project that was in actuality an interactive site-specific installation, as well as a performance of this massive united effort. In the spring of 2012 I received a NCECA Regina Brown Undergraduate Student Fellowship that would facilitate a continued investigation of kiln and its potential relationship to the community and the climate of art marking in Detroit. That fellowship ended with The Subsidized Pottery Sale.
If you would like to be involved with the Detroit Noborigama please contact Fortress Studios LLC: www.fortresssudiosdetroit.com - 7332 Oakland Ave, Detroit, MI 48211 - (313) 333 8512