Stephen Fisher

Stephen Fisher’s parents displayed many of his great-grandfather’s watercolors in their house, and he particularly loved the paintings of the landscape and architecture of New England. Fisher’s great-grandfather, Charles Collens, was foremost an architect, and he designed a number of buildings in New York City for John D. Rockefeller. These included The Cloisters, which is part of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and The Riverside Church. In 1978, Fisher graduated from Bowdoin College, Brunswick, Maine with a B.A. in Studio Art. After graduation, he sailed from Petersburg, Alaska to Cape Cod, Massachusetts on-board the 73’ charter sailboat WINDIGO. He took along a set of pastels and paper, and the landscape drawings that he created during this ten-month trip were displayed in a solo exhibition at Bowdoin College in 1980.
Fisher began working with clay in 1981. In 1982, he spent two-week at Gerry William’s studio in Dunbarton, New Hampshire where he participated in a wood firing for the first time. Gerry was a potter and founder of The Studio Potter Magazine. In 1983, Fisher moved to Sun Valley, Idaho to study ceramics at The Sun Valley Center for the Arts and Humanities. As a resident assistant, he helped maintain the center’s studio and kilns including the two-chamber wood kiln. He also build a high-fire test kiln with instruction from resident artist, Dan Doak. This was Fisher’s first introduction to kiln construction, and he has built 6 additional kilns since then. In 1987, Fisher received an M.F.A. in Ceramics from The University of Texas at San Antonio. In graduate school, he also studied printmaking and sculpture, and was the technician in the university’s ceramics studio. Fisher has taught art and ceramics at Kimball Union Academy in Meridian, New Hampshire and Palo Alto Community College in San Antonio, Texas. Currently he is art department chair and teaches ceramics, two and three dimensional design and advanced studio at The College of Idaho in Caldwell, Idaho. He has receive professional development grants from The College of Idaho and The Idaho Commission on the Arts. Fisher’s ceramic sculpture and pottery have been included in national and regional exhibitions in Oklahoma, Kansas, Texas, Illinois, Alabama, California, Oregon, Idaho and Montana. Clay is a medium that is full of transformations. The solid lump of clay is shaped into a hollow vessel, the fragile pot becomes durable and watertight, and glaze chemicals fuse into glass. These transformations are both a challenge and an opportunity for the potter, and Fisher has learned to accept that he doesn’t have complete control over these processes. This “letting go” creates the potential for the unexpected and for pots that are surprising and beautiful. The functional and aesthetic design of the pot is also very important to him. His working method involves spontaneously combining a repertoire of design ideas to create singular variations in the shape, decoration and color of each pot. The shapes in his pots are delineated with sharp, clearly defined joints and based on spheres, ovals, cylinders and cones. He is inspired by similar qualities found in Iga (Japan) and Mimbres (Southwest Native American) pottery. He punctuates the circumference of the pot with decorative relief stamps and apply slips under the glazes to create pattern or modify their color and texture. He is also captivated by the pot’s new life as a functional object after it comes from the kiln. A well-made pot can be appreciated in how it feels in the hand, its balance and weight, how it elevates the experience of consuming food or liquid, or enhances a domestic space.

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