Most photographers take their shots on a bright sunny day. Perhaps if one is an art photographer, one braves the cold on a wintry pier. But how many photographers shoot inside a ceramic kiln with the temperature running to 2400 degrees Farenheit?
Yes… I’ll own that daring notion. I didn’t stand inside it, of course. But I did blithely chance heat burns as I leaned in with my camera twice – capturing this highly unique two-photograph series I call, “God’s Conversation”.
If I had simply been producing Raku ware, I would have opened the kiln when at its highest temperature and would have simply tossed the ceramics onto the grass, as is done in the art of Raku, to give the ware its special texture. It was at this high point of cooking the clay that, instead, I thrust in and snapped with my camera.
Within the fiery kiln, we see two figures each time. In the first photograph, Buddha vs. Jesus. In the second, Buddha vs. Mao.
I can’t really say if any one of these figures turned to strong porcelain faster than the other, but capturing the clay in the process of being fired into porcelain – that’s what I myself burned to see and to show. And especially these figures, under the pressure of extreme heat.
As is generally known, in Asia, most people pray to Buddha. In the West – or at least, in North American – many people pray to Jesus. In China under Mao, an officially atheistic country, prayer was greatly frowned upon, period. Just love Mao.
Very frankly, I found it so intensely interesting that these figurines – so often “Made in China” – and shipped as representations of different faiths and religions to around the world – here they were at their fiery pinnacle of creation, facing off with each other.
A fiery birthing that gives rise to the questions we’ll ask for a lifetime – “To whom are we really praying?” and “Is anyone at the other end of my conversation with God?”