Shannon Brownlee

Instagram Page: http://shannonbrownleepottery/
Email Address:
Phone Number: 202-538-1096

Growing up, only two professions were valued in my family: being a scientist or an artist. My grandmother was a painter, mother a printmaker, father a sculptor, one brother a biologist, and the other a jeweler. After a long detour into science and writing, I circled back to art four years ago, when I took a wood firing workshop and was thunderstruck by the realization that this is what I had to do with the rest of my life.

I grew up in Honolulu, so maybe it’s no surprise that the ocean’s inhabitants were the subject of my time as a scientist. They now provide inspiration for my ceramics. It’s an iterative process: a pot’s lip will remind me of a feeding whale shark’s mouth and then I’ll decorate the pot with slip in a pattern that mimics the dappled coloration of the shark’s skin.

My work is all functional and I fire it in wood burning kilns. Firings last from two to five days, and ash forms part of the glaze on the pots. Since I live in Washington, DC, where space is constrained and wood fired kilns in your backyard are generally frowned upon, I’m grateful to be able to fire in other people’s kilns in rural Maryland, Virginia, and Pennsylvania. As any wood firer knows, making pots is a solitary job and firing them in a wood kiln requires tremendous cooperation. It’s hard work that’s shared — along with good food, bad jokes, and a deep storehouse of knowledge.