Dawn Renee received her B.F.A from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago in 1994, and has been working almost exclusively as a raku ceramic sculptor for over 25 years. Her work has always explored how smaller constituent forms become integral to something larger; how light and shadow caught and refracted by the individual components create movement within, and give form to, the larger integral work. She counts among her artistic influences the abstract expressionism of Louise Nevelson’s monochromatic wooden compositions, and the post minimalist sculptures of Eva Hesse.
Dawn’s earlier work tended to focus on surface and texture, with the constituent forms working within the constraints of shallower dimensions. After learning the technique of “naked raku” from Wally Asselberghs, she found herself thinking about forms in greater dimensions: in curves and swells that rise break from the surface while articulating the flow of the larger whole. Through a great deal of trial and error she adapted the glazing recipes she learned from Asselberghs to use locally available ingredients, and developed her own technique for integrating naked raku with traditional raku, becoming one of perhaps a dozen artists in the world currently using both techniques simultaneously in individual pieces. The resultant play of absorption and refraction—of warm bare surfaces curling against and through shimmers of light and color—give her sculptures a quality that is at once grounded and atmospheric. Though beautiful even in stasis, her work cannot be fully appreciated until you have seen it displayed where the lighting shifts over time.
Dawn’s sculptures have been displayed in numerous venues such as the Coda Galleries in Park City, Utah, and Palm Desert, California, and most recently in Mesa Contemporary Arts Museum’s 34th Annual Contemporary Crafts exhibit. Her work has been commissioned by several companies such as Elizabeth Arden Red Door and Maestro’s Ocean Club, and by private collectors that include film producer Kiki Goshay and retired news anchor and journalist Charles Gibson.
Dawn Renee currently resides in Tucson, Arizona. When she is not working in her studio, she teaches art to a new generation of artists at the Arizona School for the Deaf and Blind, where she developed the prototype for the Paint Pot Palette: a Braille palette that can easily be changed to allow blind artists to choose colors for glazing.
My raku ceramic sculpture is created from many pieces and each has a relationship to the other in order to complete the whole. Raku can be broken down into its own components; the elements, earth, fire, water, and air and each are considered for their function, like the parts of the clock, they must work together. In working with bare surface techniques combined with raku, I attempt to achieve an atmospheric quality, which is a balance of the reflection and absorption of light.
Ancestry is my most recent series and it is an exploration into my heritage. The Orkney Isles off of Scotland have been home to my father’s family for centuries. The isles have served those that have lived off the land and the sea, both presenting challenges. Weight of the Wind, one of my sculptures in the series, was inspired by the assemblages seen off of the north face of farmhouse roofs on the Orkneys, as the winds off the North Sea never cease and cause roofs to break way to these winds; ropes run over the roof and are weighted down with rocks, buoys filled with sand and other heavy objects. The Orkneys are home to many artists and they will tell you that they love the light and that it is different there then anywhere else. That light and the elements that play out in extreme are an inspiration to my work within this series.