Cultural Confluence celebrates woodfire ceramics

Symposium and exhibits highlight woodfire traditions in Montana and beyond

Art Beat
Confluence: Josh DeWeese
Bozeman artist and professor Josh DeWeese gives the keynote Thursday at the Cultural Confluence International Woodfire Symposium.

The Cultural Confluence International Woodfire Symposium brings 30 ceramic artists from around the globe, including Japan, Korea, Canada, Australia, Europe and the United Kingdom, to Helena Oct. 18-20.

This is the latest in a series of international events designed to celebrate the confluence of multiple woodfire traditions. Organized by Tara Wilson, the symposium will build upon previous events with a goal of continuing a dialogue encompassing all aspects of contemporary woodfire practices. Helena’s rich ceramic community provides a creative arena for presenters and attendees alike to openly exchange ideas, build relationships, and further the evolution of woodfired ceramics.

The Archie Bray Foundation hosts a day of demonstrations on Thursday, Oct 18, with three artists working simultaneously. The cost is $50 and registration is available at

All lectures and panels take place at the Great Northern Town Center beginning Thursday evening with a keynote address by Josh DeWeese. Registration for the symposium is $140-$195; learn more at

The School of Art at Montana State University and the Clay Studio of Missoula each host related exhibits in October.

Woodfire: Upstream of the Confluence

In conjunction with the Cultural Confluence Woodfire Symposium, Montana State University extends the celebration of woodfire traditions to Bozeman, highlighting the evolution and convergence of woodfire practices through Oct. 25 with “Upstream of the Confluence.”

The exhibition will take place in three different locations across campus including the Helen E. Copeland Gallery, the Waller-Yoblonsky Gallery and the Exit Gallery. Each gallery showcases unique collections of woodfired ceramics created by Montana State students, alumni or staff, ranging in date from 1945 to present.

The Helen E. Copeland Gallery exhibition, “East Fork,” curated by Ella Watson, Josh DeWeese and Dean Adams, highlights alumni and faculty work including pieces by Rudy Autio, Peter Voulkos, professor emeritus Frances Senska, professors Adams and DeWeese, as well as many former students.

The Waller-Yoblonsky Gallery hosts “West Fork,” showcasing art by current MFA students from Oct. 14-19; and student woodfire pieces will be on display in “Middle Fork” in the Beyond Gallery, a 1987 MCI Motor Coach that opens its doors outside of the Waller-Yoblonsky the evening of Tuesday, Oct. 16.

The Exit Gallery in the SUB hosts “Downstream Downfire,” Oct. 15-26, featuring woodfired works by the MSU Ceramic Guild.

Woodfired in Missoula

Through October, the Clay Studio of Missoula presents “Woodfired in Missoula,” a juried and invitational exhibit featuring works fired in the studio’s wood kilns from 2007-’18. Participating artists include Jo Bernofsky, Grace Brogan, Elena Capousis, Danny Crump, Chris Drobnock, John Dunkum, Judy Hartz, James Heath, Karlene Kantner, Joshua Kuensting, Scott McClellan, Hannah McGehee, Ryan Mitchell, Melissa Mylchreest, Glenn Parks, Jane Philips,  Matt Simms, Richard Smith, Nell Staub, Tara Wilson, Casey Zablocki, Loryn Zerr, and others.