Amy Burnham | Episode 661
Amy Sunshine Burnham is a PNW artist who works diligently to balance many roles in her life. She has built a career and a life navigating the triad of her roles as mother and wife, full-time high school ceramics educator, and potter. Her personal explorations in clay are always inspired by process. Her work is most often represented by colorful and functional explorations in agateware and the intensity of anagama woodfiring process.
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You have several Instagram accounts and private, personal one. Why to do have a private account where the rest of the world can’t get to?
I want to be able to post things for my friends to see a little glimpse into my life with my husband and my kids where I can use their names and just talk about celebrations and struggles that I might be having. Mostly, Instagram I feel is, and Facebook also, is super curated so I suppose if you were to look at any of my Instagram feeds you would say that my life is perfect and it’s not. But my private Instagram is just personal. I mean there is nothing scandalous there, although I guess I could put something scandalous, but it’s just for my friend’s and family and it gives a little bit more of a personal insight into the ins and outs of my personal life with my family.
Then you have three other feeds. Your amyburnham.ceramics account is telling your personal journey with ceramics, correct?
Yes. Amy Burnham Ceramics, that is where I am just posting processes about my personal ceramics work. What I like to make, what I am working on, I would say that my Instagram feed is not as polished as lots of other people’s Instagram feeds. It doesn’t feel super cohesive but one thred through that page and all of my Instagram pages is that it is very processed based. I like to talk about how I make my clay and I show little clips of throwing on the wheel. There isn’t a lot of finished work. It’s mostly process based.
Why is it important to show the journey instead of just straight up finished product, up for sale, why showing the whole process?
I think it’s really important for people to understand how much time and effort and thought goes into making your artwork. No matter how simple your artwork is, I think people don’t understand what goes into it. And I endeavor in both my teaching and in my personal ceramics to help people to understand the value of art in our society. That it comes from somewhere. That it comes from someone’s heart and it comes from the daily work and it comes from effort and grit. So for me it’s super important for people to understand that.+
Another part of your life is fitness. So you have another Instagram feed for you and your husband doing fitness workouts, is that accurate?
Yes, in March,,,we had been Crossfitters for quite a few years now and in March all the gyms got closed down and we started building our garage gym, so we have a full garage gym and we do our Crossfit workouts in our gym and our son joins us. He’s almost ten years old. So I just wanted to document that process also. It is also process based. Fitness in a journey.
And then you have one that you run for your school.
Yes. So that one is L.O.H.S. ceramics and I just like to be able to post different things that my students are working on. To me that page feels more like a celebration so there’s a lot of pictures of students just having a good time and really enjoying the tactile learning of ceramics.
How has Covid changed the way you do your Instagram for the school feed?
I haven’t really done a lot of posting on that school feed. There’s just been a couple of posts, mainly in celebration. The spring was real interesting. You know I have a classroom full of work that is yet to be fired. Since school closed down on March 13th I’ve only been in my class twice. Every single cabinet still has student work from last year full of work that needs to be fired. So that feed has not been very active.
How do you keep all these balls up in the air, that you are juggling?
Well, sometimes they don’t all stay in the air. (laughter) You asked me about my L.O.H.S. Ceramics Instagram page and I haven’t posted on there. So that is a ball that has fallen over the summer and I am picking that back up right now. Sometimes my work gets really focused on making on my own personal work so in the fall I am making tons of work for firing at East Creek Anagama and in the spring and sometimes it’s too much. You know, firing an Anagama kiln, that is three weekends in a row, not to mention the weeks before hand where you are making and firing things and sometimes my life gets completely our of balance. Something takes over and I have to pull myself back and say, Okay, I need to pay more attentions to my family now. Or I need to pay more attention to my teaching. So ya, sometimes the balls fall.
YouTube: Amy Burnham Ceramics