This blog highlights the talents of this years symposium presenters. For more information about attending this years symposium, please see

Monday, February 17, 2014

Are you ready for the Pin Swap and Pin Auction? by Teresa Burgher

Are you ready for the famous Lute’s Casino pin swap? I am. Last year I did a post with pictures of my favorite pins. This year I just wanted to tell a brief story about my pin process for any newbies who are interested in getting started and getting involved.

First, take any idea that seems doable and get cracking. You will need more time than you think to fabricate even the simplest of pins. I am a notoriously untalented craftsperson and have made some of the faultiest pins ever in the history of the Yuma Pin swap. Since any pin that someone is kind enough to share with me is a total gift I am inclined to the egalitarian principle of first come first served, and give my pins to the first fifty people who ask.

In fact, I set that number and goal years ago when faced with the daunting reality of coveting pins from some of the most talented makers in the country. That is why they invented the auction. It is an amazing way to help the Symposium stay financially solvent AND a terrific way to acquire the most beautiful pins from the event. It kind of put the pin slobs like me on an even footing with the pin elite and has allowed me the pleasure of dabbling in the fierce hot competition of bidding for my favorite pieces.

Last year I was actually pleased enough with my pin, a screen printed silk flower with political undertones, to keep two of the best and offer them to the pin auction. I was thrilled that someone bid on them and took them home.

This year I’ve made four pins as a set. I set out with the theme of ‘35 Pins’ in honor of our 35th anniversary. I was going to make all of the pieces out of 35 safety pins. My idea took on several permutations and in the end I fell short by one and finished 34 pins with some kind of reference to the number 35 or pins. Anyway, it was fun.

That leaves me with 30 to trade. I’m trying an economic principle of supply and demand. I hope it works and that due to the short supply, someone will be wild to acquire my auction pins and they will demand a higher price. But let’s get real, and please, take pity on my pin pride! On Friday night when you see my bid sheet is blank, throw me a bone and bid my pins up. I’ve got some serious competition, and every bid is for a good cause.

So, if you are new to the Symposium, or if you have been dragging your feet, it’s not too late to make a few pins and get in on the fun. And for the thirty of you who get to registration early, well, I’ve still got a pin for you.

--Teresa Burgher
Executive Committee, 
Yuma Symposium Board of Directors 

Julie Anand

Yuma friends,
I decided to use this year's post to describe a collaborative project I worked on over the summer, Río Canciòn. I received a grant from Arizona State University's Global Institute of Sustainability to travel to Honduras to work with my brother John Blake Batten of Guaruma, an environmental education non-profit 

Over the course of a week, we made art with about one hundred youth of the villages of Las Mangas and El Pital, about an hour up river into the jungle from La Ceiba on the Carribean coast. We made Mundos Pequeños—tiny microcosms of found materials and modeling clay to explore ideas of scale. 

I also introduced the students to cyanotypes, a turn of the century method for making blueprint photographs, so that they could experience analog light phenomena and explore patterns in nature printing plant material from their surroundings. We talked about Anna Atkins, quite possibly the first female photographer, who used this method to make the first book illustrated by photographs in her Photographs of British Algae: Cyanotype Impressions. I was interested in having these kids recognize that people can study plants for a living and also in gesturing to female empowerment by referencing a botanist/artist from 1843.
Students made both blueprints on paper and also contributed their blueprints on cloth to a collaborative tapestry. 

Ultimately, we had enough funding to bring Camillo Lopez and John Blake Batten of Guaruma up to Arizona for a culminating exhibition at ASU with outcomes from the workshops as well as over a hundred of the student's digital photographs of their incredible ecosystems. 

It was truly a wonderful collaboration and I am deeply impressed with the vision of these young people and with the work my brother is doing in Honduras. Wanted to sing the praises of and share an experience with you all. Can't wait to see you once again at our community shindig!
 --Julie Anand   ASU Professor and Yuma Symposium Board Member

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Rocky Lewycky

 Hello from the Santa Cruz redwoods!

A couple weeks ago, I received an email from Peter and Kit Jagoda.  Here’s an excerpt from the message…

 Your exhibition was shared with me by Ron Milhoan. Ron is a friend of 
 my husband, Peter Jagoda. Peter started the Yuma Art Symposium
 35 years ago. Are you familiar with it?”

Is it a small world or what?  

Kit and Peter run a nonprofit animal sanctuary: River's Wish Animal Sanctuary.  We share a connection as my current show aims to elucidate the brutality of animal factory farming.  Later in our conversation, Kit asked me if I was going to include this project at the symposium.  So Kit, yes, I will talk about this piece in my lecture.  Here are some images of my current show, “Is It Necessary?”, up through February 23rd at the Santa Cruz Museum of Art & History.


“Is It Necessary?”
Installation at the Santa Cruz Museum of Art & History


“Is It Necessary?” (Detail)
Installation at the Santa Cruz Museum of Art & History

A recent article published by C-File (Global Community for Clay and Ceramic Creatives in Art & Design & Architecture,) illuminates the show and accompanying "Liberation Project." 

I’m looking forward to my visit in Yuma!  See y’all soon.
-Rocky Lewycky
   2014 Yuma Symposium Presenter

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Stephen Robison

Wow its getting closer and I am certainly looking forward to a good time.  I have heard that it is and that Yuma is a great symposium.  I have only been to AZ once to present at a wood fire conference in Flagstaff.  I am privileged to be a part of The Great Yuma Symposium.  I was so excited about getting there I accidentally booked my plane ticket a day before it starts!

So they say the devil is in the details.  Dang, if I would have just checked the dates before booking. But since I don’t believe in the devil its cool, I will relax and enjoy Yuma.  I think the beauty in life is the intricacies and the details. They are often more hard to discern but for me the challenge of details are where much of both the ugliness of life and the beauty of life lie. To see the big picture details are needed.

So the images I am posting are details of my work and the collaborative work I do with my partner Kathleen Guss.

The work is primarily fired in atmospheric kilns such as wood fired or soda fire kilns and generally there is no glaze used except for liner glazes, but I do use a variety of metallic oxide slips to work with the surface. 

These details are from pieces that are all made from different clay bodies, but fired in a similar atmosphere. They have layers of ash and sodium that create crystals that are varied in their chemic make up due to the wood used and the metallic oxides inherent in each individual clay body.

Both the science and serendipity, or the control and lack of control of the process of wood and soda firing are focal points that continually hold my interest and offer somewhat unlimited areas of investigation into surface.


Some recent work is using laterite, which are soils that formed in hot and wet tropical areas and are very rich both iron and aluminum.  The reticulation of the surface creates a skin like tension and a surprise of some brilliant copper penny looking crystals are two areas of investigation. On some forms the metal from the laterite rises to the surface to form more drastic reticulation.

 --Stephen Robison  35th Yuma Symposium Presenter