Dan Anderson recently retired as Head of Ceramics at the Department of Art and Design at Southern Illinois University in Edwardsville, Illinois. He is a frequent workshop presenter, having lectured and demonstrated at over 60 different places in the last two decades. He has taught at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville for the past 32 years, pouring his heart and soul into the ceramics program, bringing it up to the well-known program it is today. Mr. Anderson has had exhibitions all over the world, and won awards and fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Archie Bray Foundation and the Illinois Arts Council.
My artwork, an amalgam of vessel and industrial artifact, is full of iron-like handmade replicas of manmade objects, soft clay renderings of metal objects—aged and impotent reminders of a once powerful age. The oil and gasoline cans represent the machinery that once threatened to devalue the work of human beings. Now they seem just like the hardworking humans they served—stoic, dignified, straightforward, but plumb worn out. The usefulness of machines in their original states is limited—as the products of progress, they are doomed to obsolescence—but by recreating them in a “primitive” medium, I believe they will endure through the ages. They have been transformed for eternity into art. In this way too, I have taken the aesthetic and political ugliness out of industry, reminding everyone that change can be both hurtful/traumatic and positive/healing, once again underscoring the power of art to uplift the human condition. By firing the oil and gas cans in my anagama kiln, I am convinced that instead of merely heating the clay, the flame and ash have the capacity to alter and enhance my clay cans. The etched surface, created by sustained three-to-five-day firing, imbues a “poetic” richness. What an interesting conspiracy: man/woman, clay and fire.