f all the elements, water takes precedence for Gulf Coast residents. Yet for a group of artists on display in downtown Mobile, there’s more at play than mere atoms of oxygen and hydrogen.

“There are few things in our modern-day world that connect a community with its geology, ecology, and human industry like a long anagama firing. Over almost a week of round-the-clock stoking, the earth within the kiln, the trees fed into it and the crew that tends it are transformed by the volcanic heat,” ceramic artist Zach Sierke said in a Mobile Arts Council (MAC) press release.

Sierke is joined by fellow ceramic artisans Bertice McPherson, Lindalee Smith and Tony Wright for the show “Painting with Fire,” on display at the MAC’s Skinny Gallery through the end of the month. Joining their pieces is the photography of Leigh Bancroft, capturing the process and its emergent details.

Sierke’s pieces, fired in his own Twin Beech Anagama kiln, forge those local components into transcendent beauty. Even the clay is local, often dug by Sierke’s own hand and then mutated “as a week’s worth of wood ash melts and transforms onto the crystallized ceramic surface.”

For almost 20 years, Sierke has pulled artists into his anagama community. He described the show as demonstrating “the connectivity and diversity of expression that manifests in the firing’s powerful environment.”

The exhibit is joined by the show “Emergence” which features work in a variety of mediums by the Professional Practices class in the University of South Alabama’s Visual Art Department. Also on hand is “ChARTing Young Visions,” consisting of photographs by students of Devin Ford-Conklan in MAC’s ChARTing New Directions program.

Gallery hours are 9 a.m until 5 p.m., Monday through Friday. Entrance is free.

For more info, call 251-432-9796 or go to mobilearts.org.


Painting with Fire
Where: Mobile Arts Council, 318 Dauphin St.
When: Through December