Arts & Entertainment

Profile: KU senior uses ceramics for cultural awareness

By Raven Shellman
Contributing Writer

Keegan Buck, a senior double major in Art Education and Ceramics at KU, uses his art to promote the Japanese aesthetic of Wabi-Sabi. Buck currently presents his pottery at art shows and festivals. His last festival was the Allentown Art Fest at Cedar Beach, near Muhlenberg College.

His work has unique indentations, curvatures, and colors that draw one’s eye to the pieces.

“My favorite piece of pottery is my first wood-fired piece,” Buck said.

The colors that appear on his pieces are not typical glazes but, instead, uses what the fire and ashes do naturally to the pottery while inside the kiln. They can range from a golden brown to a light ash color with dark spots; though, Buck does use glazes depending on the piece.

Wood firing is used traditionally in the Japanese aesthetic of Wabi-Sabi, the view of accepting the imperfect. The beauty of the piece comes from the imperfections, often highlighted in Buck’s artwork with uneven glazes, the natural colors, deliberate indentations and the curvature of the top. Instead of a smooth straight edge, it follows the indentations; the edge slightly dips where there is an indentation in the mug to match the overall aesthetic.

At first, the imperfections bothered Buck: “People liked my art, but at first it was not supposed to look like it does now. Back then it was an accident, now it’s purposeful.”

His father kept pushing him to keep working and keep going. Then, after meeting famous potter Warren Mackenzie and taking inspiration from him, he started finally seeing the beauty in the imperfections of the pieces he made.

Now Buck’s only restrictions over himself are the rule of three and following the aesthetic of Wabi-Sabi. He purposefully makes his pottery look the way it does for the uniqueness, and he wants the viewer to see the subtle control he has over the clay—the look of it was not an accident but a conscious decision he made. e has no control over the firing process, so whatever happens inside the kiln, happens inside the kiln.

Firing is the longest process of his art form. Buck mentioned, “Wood firing is my favorite, but it takes forever. One firing I did was over three days, and it was reaching the four-day mark until the pieces were finally finished.”

Making the pottery is easy for him. A small piece such as a mug can be finished in eight to ten minutes, and a larger piece such as a vase can be completed in fifteen to twenty minutes. It all depends on how much clay is used for the piece, but the overall time is never longer than thirty minutes.

Buck wishes to present his work soon at KU, though when he will be able to do so is undetermined at this point. You can follow Buck’s Instagram at @keeganbuckpottery. There, he posts frequent updates on art shows and recent pieces he has made. His Instagram is the best means of contacting him, as well.


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