On her birthday, Lynn Sofiak received a lump of clay and the address of a workshop where she could find a pottery wheel.
The gift was from a friend who knew of Sofiak’s desire to try out the messy art form.
She enjoyed the musty, earthy smell of the clay and how fluid and responsive it was.
“That was it. I loved it right from the beginning,” said Sofiak.
That was 28 years ago.
Now she has her own show in the Arts Underground, where she has been displaying her pottery for the last month.
The show was called Integration — something that Sofiak sees taking place continually in her work.
There was an integration of clay, glaze, and wood, and also an integration of serious beauty and light-hearted humour.
When the show opened late last month, viewers were given a sheet of paper with four close-ups and invited to guess which pot the photograph came from.
It was difficult to tell.
The melting, swirling colours resembled impressionist landscapes much more than pottery.
At the end of the night one of the guesses was drawn — regardless of whether or not it was correct — to win a pottery prize.
“It was just an idea I had,” said Sofiak.
“It made it fun and more interactive. Some people really took it seriously.”
It is intriguing the way the work was laid out throughout the space.
The Yukonian Wall Flowers were 17 vibrant pots that were arranged on the wall, connected by willow stems that grew out of a vase on the floor.
On the opposite wall, a collection of earthenware fish was entangled in a fishnet.
The work was named, Caught Up In Your Own Weapon of Mass Destruction.
“Sometimes I come up with the titles before, and sometimes it has to sit with me for a while,” she said.
Other names included: Hoodoo Ya Luv, the Crematoria Chorus-line Gals Sing the Blues, and Bourbon Bob and the Wobblies.
Sofiak uses a number of glazes, painting wax, and metal oxides to decorate her work.
The pottery goes into the oven looking like a decorated cake, melts and changes, and comes out in chaotic swirling patterns.
The techniques Sofiak uses are mostly self-taught but she has also attended numerous workshops.
Within three months of first falling in love with the art form, she had gotten a pottery wheel and built herself a propane-gas kiln.
“The first 10 years were spent skill building,” she said.
“I was obsessed with getting better.”
Her skill level rose when she became a production potter.
For 10 years she made a living off of her work and never got tired of working the clay.
“The more I do it, the more passionate I feel. It feeds itself,” she said.
“It’s very sensuous and responsive, like wet cream cheese. It’s like the clay has a life of its own, it shows you.”
She now has several jobs bookkeeping and also enjoys teaching the art to others in pottery classes.
Sofiak feels that everyone has a secret desire to try pottery, just as she did 28 years ago.
And she’s seen many of her students get bitten by the pottery bug.
Sofiak’s show at the Arts Underground closes on Wednesday.
She also sells her work privately and at Yukon Artists at Work gallery.
Russian artists visit
The Arts Underground will also host visitors from Russia tonight from 5 to 7 p.m.
The five artists hail from Yamal Nenets, an autonomous region in Western Siberia.
They all work for the District Arts and Crafts Centre in the city of Salekhard, which is located on the Arctic Circle and has a population 38,000.
The group is here to learn and share ideas about promoting and supporting the artists in their region.
Each member works in different, diverse art forms, from traditional media such as wood and antler, ceramics and beads, to more modern media such as photography and graphic arts.
Some artists will be dressed in their regional costumes and the group hopes to be able to share both work and culture with Yukoners. (CO)