Barry Bernstein graduated from Michigan State University in 1972 with a Bachelor of Science in Economics. He then studied ceramics at Northern Michigan University under Marvin Zehnder, a graduate of Alfred University. In 1981 he left NMU to set up a ceramic studio in Marquette, MI where he has worked for the past 35+ years. Barry has won numerous awards and exhibits at all the best art fairs and galleries including the Coconut Grove Arts Festival and the Cherry Creek Arts Festival in Denver, Colorado. He has work in many collections in the United States, Europe, and Japan. In 1990 he opened and managed inventory for the Osher-Osher Gallery in Cleveland Ohio, which he did for 12 years. Currently, he is making pots in his downtown Marquette studio, firing in the Raku process.
I’ve been making vessels and firing in the Raku process for over 35 years. I use the vessel form as my canvas and the firing process as my paint brush. Slight adjustments in the firing and cooling create a wide range of colors and textures. I try to create visually strong forms and strong surface treatment. Pieces must have both to be considered successful. I make simple forms with very little embellishment to get at the strength and inner beauty of the vessel form.
I believe my pieces reflect the hues and the forms of our Upper Peninsula environment. Many of my pieces celebrate the Northern Lights. Others are reminiscent of the hues of Lake Superior and the brilliance of the fall colors. My studio faces the big lake and the old ore dock in downtown Marquette and this has had an influence visually on my pieces.
Other influences include 7th to 17th century Oriental ceramics and Native American pottery. Another is an artist/instructor named Richard Devore who fired his pieces numerous times. Devore fired his pieces in an electric kiln and I thought I would try the technique with Raku. To my delight, I obtained hues and textures not usually found in Raku. This has led to other experimentation including glaze firing the pieces twice in an electric kiln before I Raku fire. Each piece gets 2-4 Raku firings. Sometimes I over fire the pieces and then under fire them. Each subtle change in the Raku process creates different results. I’m still experimenting.
The exhibition of his work can be viewed in the Hartwig Gallery from November 2- 30, 2015 and the Opening Reception is Wednesday, November 4th
at 3:30 pm.