Lucien M. Koonce
Lucien M. Koonce is a ceramic artist living in the western Massachusetts village of Haydenville, where he maintains Horsepen Kiln Studio. His ceramic work consists of hand-built functional and sculptural forms which are wood-fired in an Anagama kiln.
His forming process begins with a solid mass of clay and uses a wooden paddle to shape the exterior surface. While there may be preconceived notions of the form, it is through spontaneous manipulation that the exterior of an object is derived. Once the clay stiffens, the interior is hollowed out by hand with a carving tool, a process known as ‘kurinuki’. This technique, in which a form is dug or carved out of solid clay instead of being shaped on a potter’s wheel or made from coils or slabs, is a process that allows an intent focus on the inner shape, thus creating balance between the outer and inner movements of the form.
Regarding the wood-firing process he states in his artist statement, “The inherent nature of continuous flame, intense heat, and ash upon the clay, whether glazed or unglazed, adds color and textural effects that are congruent to each piece. The unpredictability of the firing, juxtaposed to the implementation of as many controlled variables as one can, creates random visual beauty which harmonizes with the physical form.”
Lucien was born in the North Carolina town of Greenville (Pitt County) and attended undergraduate school at East Carolina University, Greenville, NC. Studying Ceramics under Art Haney (MFA, Alfred University) and Charles Chamberlain (MFA, Alfred University), he received his Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in 1978.
His graduate Ceramics studies were at the University of Iowa, Iowa City, Iowa. Under the instruction of Chuck Hindes (MFA, Rhode Island School of Design) and Bunny McBride (MFA, Alfred University), he received a Master of Arts degree and a Master of Fine Arts degree. This three year combined degree program was completed in 1981.
Lucien lived in Robbins, NC (Moore County), located within the Seagrove, NC radius) from 1986 to 2002. This eastern Piedmont region of North Carolina has had a heritage of pottery making since the mid-1800s. It was there that he established Horsepen Kiln Studio. From Robbins, he relocated to Charlotte, NC where he was an adjunct lecturer with UNC-Charlotte, teaching Ceramics Handbuilding and Three-dimensional Design. During this time period he re-established Horsepen Kiln Studio in the Asheville, NC (Buncombe County) area. This region also enjoyed being a major pottery center during the mid-1800s, and continues to be so.
In 2008, Lucien Koonce left North Carolina and moved to western Massachusetts. He has exhibited nationally since 1978.