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Tori Burnham is excited to have landed the Guilford Art Center (GAC) third pottery residency. The year-long residency began in September. On Saturday, Oct. 14, Burnham will lead a Bowl-a-Thon to build bowls that will fill the tables at GAC’s fifth annual Soup for Good fundraiser. The Sunday, Nov. 12 soup supper benefits non-profit GAC and non-profit Community Dining Room. (Photo courtesy of GAC )
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Guilford Art Center’s (GAC) third resident potter isn’t wasting any time getting her hands dirty.
Just weeks into her new role, Tori Burnham will throw herself in to directing GAC’s Bowl-a-Thon this Saturday, Oct. 14. Working with GAC potters, Tori will add her whimsical style to a potters’ production line of hand-crafted bowls.
“I’m really excited; it’s going to be a big day,” says Tori. “All of the students will be coming in and making bowls for the majority of the day, and I’ll be making bowls, so we’re going to make as many as we can, and they’ll all have their own personalities.”
On Sunday, Nov. 12, each unique bowl will star as part of GAC’s fifth annual Soup for Good fundraiser, which supports non-profit GAC and non-profit Community Dining Room. Guests gather at GAC, select their bowl, and choose a hearty soup to enjoy together with bread, desserts, and a glass of wine or sparkling water. Bowls will be washed for guests to take home “for good.”
Tickets are $30 in advance or $35 at the door. Advance tickets can be purchased at www.guilfordartcenter.org, by calling 203-453-5947, or by stopping by GAC offices at 411 Church Street. Post-soup, guests can stroll The Shop at Guilford Art Center to visit Artistry: American Craft for the Holidays, GAC’s annual sale of fine holiday arts and crafts.
Tori is thrilled to be spending a year with GAC right after graduating from the University of Hartford (UHart), where she double majored in ceramics and painting. As part of its educational mission, GAC’s residency program supports emerging artists by providing a year-long residency from September to August. In August, GAC will exhibit the resident potter’s end-cap show. Resident potters work in GAC’s communal pottery studio where they develop their own art and share and learn from GAC participants.
“I get to work around the students and see what they’re doing, so I’m catching on to certain styles and picking up techniques,” says Tori. “I also get a lot of questions during Open Studios, and I try to help each person as much as I can. It’s good to have conversations!”
GAC’s pottery studio is equipped with 12 wheels, a hand building table, three electric kilns, a slab roller, an extruder, an outdoor downdraft gas kiln, a raku kiln, and a glaze mixing room. Students can work in four clay types, (white stoneware, brown stoneware, porcelain, and red earthenware) and with any number of high and low temperature glazes, slips and washes (for both high and low temperature firings).
Tori, who will turn 23 at the end of the month, says GAC’s residency program is a gift to aspiring professional potters, especially those just completing their undergraduate degrees.
“After graduating, your first question is, where do I work now? All the equipment you need is so expensive. You need to find somewhere where you can thrive,” says Tori.
The South Windsor native heard about GAC’s residency program through a UHart professor last spring and applied right away.
“I was so excited about the residency, because there aren’t many around,” says Tori. “It gives me an opportunity to have a studio space and to work on my own work, and to be in a community of other people who are doing the same thing that I’m doing.”
During her residency, Tori will be working on her end-cap show, which will highlight her style and creativity. Her current repertoire includes several whimsical tea sets. Each curvy, asymmetrical silhouette shows attention to detail and shines with colorful designs that tell of Tori’s painterly talents.
“My senior show was really focused on tea sets and tea pots specifically,” says Tori, of her April senior ceramic exhibition, Atmospheric Commentary, in the Silpe Gallery of the Hartford Art School at UHart. Several photos of Tori’s pieces currently top the page at Guilford Art Center on Facebook; more can be found at Tori Burnhnam Art on Facebook.
“Each piece has its own character. Right now, I’m kind of expanding to dessert things...trays, little cookie plates,” says Tori. “I like working with sets because there are so many opportunities to make little connections with the pieces, small details that would tie together each piece, like handles, the feet on it, or even the color.”
While form follows function, Tori aims to create pieces that will be the center of attention.
“Personally, I would use them, and I do use them, because they’re totally functional—although I bet the person buying them would put them on shelf! I’m interested in making sets that are kind of for display—say if you had a friend over, you’d put each piece on a tray and carry it over to the table, or if it was a dessert dish, you’d bring it out with a cake on the middle of it.”
Tori’s looking forward to spending the coming months working on her designs and working alongside others at GAC’s pottery studio.
“Especially coming out of school, to be in a community with other people is really great,” says Tori. “I’m always open for any questions any students have, and vice versa! It’s a good place to get inspired by other people, as well inspiring other people.”
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