2017 DUMA Biennial artist, Karen Sebesta

Karen Sebesta, Hudson, Wisconsin
Pagosa, 2016, clay, 6x11x11
Moonlight, 2016, clay, 6×15 1/2 x 15 1/2

Karen Sebesta is a resident of Hudson who has a love for the art of the Southwest. She has always been drawn to pottery made by the native people of Mexico and the Southwestern United States, particularly the smooth feel and rich color of the highly polished black pottery and carvings and textures used to decorate the vessels. Over 30 years ago Karen started taking pottery classes using the potter’s wheel and glazing functional pieces. While she enjoyed this type of pottery, Karen made a style shift in 1999 after she began studying with Michael Wisner of Colorado. Under the tutelage of Mr. Wisner and master potter Juan Quezada of Mata Ortiz, Mexico, Karen learned the native tradition of making pottery including making clay, coil building, polishing, and firing.

From making clay to using unique firing processes, the creation of Karen’s pottery is very labor intensive, but it’s this approach that she enjoys the most. She spends hours on each piece hand-building, sanding, polishing and then firing the pottery. Karen feels the pottery truly comes alive once she has polished/burnished it. Over the years, she has studied various pit-firing processes of blackening the pottery and using horse-hair to create singed lines on the light colored pieces. Incorporating lessons learned in firing, Karen has also developed her own firing process to achieve rich earth-tone finishes, which fit well with the style of pottery she creates. Inspiration comes from many places, but mainly in shapes and color in nature and the peaceful surroundings where she lives.