|Iris Howe pictured with a coil pot, a work in progress|
Fifteen years ago Iris Howe put down her clay, sold her kiln and wheel and let the muse rest for a while. She and her husband Aaron moved from Nevada to Price. They became enthralled with the desert country of the San Rafael and spent many hours exploring the area. Nine Mile Canyon was a favorite destination. Hiking and exploring on weekends was key to surviving the week. Iris became active in a Tuesday hiking group but it wasn't long before the muse was back pushing at Iris to do something to get her impressions down on what she was seeing and experiencing.
Inspired by her hero, Georgia O'Keefe, and all the red rock country, Iris signed on for an oil painting class at CEU with Cliff Bergera.
Howe has shown her work at the CEU Prehistoric Museum Art Gallery, at the Rio in Salt Lake, the Helper Arts Festival, Rosie's Deli and in the Glenwood Springs annual Spring Art Show.
"Let's all go down and sign up for the ceramics program at CEU," said a friend of hers last year. "It will be fun!"
Iris thought about it for two seconds and joined in. Having been a studio potter steeped in functional ware and exacting standards Iris took the opportunity to approach clay with a purely nonfunctional and fun attitude.
Ceramics Department teacher Blaine Atwood did not mind having a few advanced students around horning in on his class. It was not long before he and Iris had hatched a plan to dig a hole on her land and do an ancient form of firing called a pit fire. Iris had been deeply influenced by the pot chards, dwellings and rock art she had been exposing herself to. This led her to a primitive method of forming and firing her pieces.
"The pit fire is full of surprises, you can plan and try to figure what will happen but the fire always does just as it pleases, very rarely does it disappoint," says the artist.
Iris Howe's work will be on display in a group exhibit, the Art and Culture of Castle Country at the CEU Prehistoric Museum Art Gallery.
This show will feature art and folk art from the area and the committee is now seeking artists to be part of the exhibit. "Passing down of art through the ages" is the theme, and Pearl Oliver is guest curator for the three-month show, scheduled to kickoff in October.
"We are looking for art that expresses the many faces and cultural diversity of Carbon and Emery Counties," said Oliver, explaining that the deadline for submissions is September 13. The show will include a broad range of art work, including three dimensional art and possibly literary works.
Local artists are encouraged to call Oliver at 637-2770 or the CEU Prehistoric Museum at 637-5060 with questions or applications.