Michael Flaherty






Ceramic Fundamentalist

Not long after 9/11 2001 a friend jokingly refered to me as a "ceramic fundamentalist". It was an elegant play on words about the confrontational nature of much of my work as well as the political climate of the time. Since then I have undertaken projects aimed at determining what constitutes fundamentalism in general and in relation to ceramics.

I Am Not A Fundamentalist was a satircal take on the educational process. Using the trope of the eccentric professor I began a lecture that quickly devolved into a defensive rant in response to fictional allegations that I was a fundamentalist. Along the way I contrasted myself with with the 9/11 hijackers and alluded to who I thought the real ceramic fundamentalists were.

Ceramic Fundamentalist Handbook is a parody of Val Cushing's Handbook, a popular technical manual written by the venerable Val Cushing, Professor Emeritus of Ceramics at Alfred University. Cushing's book is a library of useful information regarding glazes, clay bodies, kilns, firing and much else. The collection of papers, formulae and diagrams appears as a set of objective information, but I would contend that it is also the expression of a highly personal doctrine. My book describes, in a manner so highly personalized that it is hard to imagine it could ever be of any use to anyone else, the exact technical and conceptual properties at work in my art. As much as Cushing's book is a how-to of his own tecniques so my book is of mine, however without the pretense of objectivity.