“The art object is a symbol of that no-thing interior experience; a world-energy intuitively known but symbolically communicated. What is made out of the singular experience of the artist becomes a communal experience of the all humanity, a wonder in itself…It is not the primary commission of art to make things, but to move hearts.” – Brother Thomas, This is the Day, Pucker Gallery, 2005
Brother Thomas wrote and reflected upon his creativity as much as he enacted it. His sense of wonder, discovery, and reverence are reflected in his work, and led him to create the powerful forms and illuminous glazes for which he is known. Originally from Halifax, Canada, Brother Thomas entered the Benedictine Monastery in Weston, Vermont in 1959, already having begun working in clay by 1953. By 1985, he became an artist-in-residence at Mount Saint Benedict in Erie Pennsylvania, where he remained for the rest of his life.
In 1978, Brother Thomas traveled to Japan and met five potters who had been designated as Living National Treasures. One can readily see the influence of Japanese traditions in his choice and application of glazes, use of the raku firing process, and forms employed such as the tea bowl. He worked exclusively in porcelain, a particularly difficult medium to manipulate when creating larger forms such as his millennial eggs, larger vases, and vessels. Many pieces – it is said nearly 90% –were destroyed, either by his own hand or during the firing process. Brother Thomas was a true experimenter and did not settle for anything less than perfection, as evidenced in the surviving examples whose qualities embody harmony, balance, and elegance. He created a dazzling array of glazes, such as his red copper, opalescent celadon, honan tenmoku, and a variety of textured glazes. His work is included in the collections of over 80 institutions worldwide, including Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, the Art Institute of Chicago, the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, and the Victoria and Albert Museum in London.
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