Colleen Black Semelka
Since the early 1990’s, North Carolina and its rich artistic community has been the crucible of my creativity.
Canadian-born, I was raised on the wide open northern prairies and fell in love with clay soon after discovering the medium. I have spent 25 years working with it!
I currently make my art in Chapel Hill and rural Chatham County studios. After an undergraduate degree from the University of Manitoba I encountered many teachers, both people and places. Introduced to raku in San Francisco during the late 1980’s, I proceeded to study ceramics in Germany and perfected wheel skills in Canada. Art Professor Yun-Dong Nam at UNC Chapel Hill challenged my sculptural abilities and most importantly, I’ve had two great mentors: the late Sally Bowen Prange and iconic master Paul Soldner.
The raku process utilizes elemental energies, combining earth, air, fire, and water. The resulting objects are infused with spirit. It’s like a meditation, and I’m blessed to be a conduit. Often I sit at the potter’s wheel and have no idea what object will come from my hands. The serendipitous firing process offers little control of color, and often only a hint of the final outcome. It’s this element of surprise that makes raku so interesting.