Wayne Higby (b. 1943), Black Notch Canyon, 1985; Glazed earthenware, raku-fired, 10 3/4 x 18 x 16 inches; Bequest of Annette M. Cravens, 2017
Wayne Higby is internationally recognized as a Raku master and one of the most innovative ceramic artists in the world, as well as a gifted teacher. Black Notch Canyon, and other works from the mid-1980s, depict his childhood memories of the American Southwest. From every angle one can see breathtaking views of canyons, cliffs, rivers, lakes, and plateaus. Remarkably, some views align so that interior details continue on the outer surface of his bowls. This trompe l’oeil imagery and the dark crackling, which is a desired effect of raku firing, emphasize his dreamlike vision.
Higby has been on the faculty of the New York State College of Ceramics at Alfred University since 1973. Beginning in 1991, he started traveling to the People’s Republic of China, where he has taught classes and journeyed to Gaolin Mountain, where kaolin, the chief ingredient of porcelain, originated. In subsequent trips, Higby chaired international ceramic art conferences in Yixing and served as Honorary Professor at Shanghai University. Higby’s art has been collected, exhibited, and published internationally. Among his impressive commissions is Alfred University’s EarthCloud, believed to be the largest hand-cut porcelain tile installation in the world. Higby said, “Essentially I am concerned with landscape imagery as a focal point of meditation.”—NW