Steven Kemenyffy

Steven Kemenyffy (born 1943) is an American ceramic artist living and working in Pennsylvania. He is most recognized for his contributions to the development of the American ceramic raku tradition. He has served as a Professor of Ceramic Art at Edinboro University of Pennsylvania (formerly Edinboro State College) since 1969. He Has retired from teaching, but continues to produce artwork at his home studio in McKean, Pennsylvania. Kemenyffy is often characterized in regard to his contributions to American experimental ceramics of the late 1960s and early 1970s. More specifically, Kemenyffy’s contributions to American raku techniques are often cited. Kemenyffy has stated that his interest in raku came out of practical considerations: “We [Steven and Susan] were doing a variety of workshops in a variety of different media. Raku was always an official way of making pieces in a short period of time…In raku it seems to compress all the firings into one.” Kemenyffy, himself, describes his early work as “Biomorphic forms alluding to old ceramic traditions such as tiles, vases, and containers.” These works were often in excess of six feet tall and many times included mixed media elements. In 1974, Kemenyffy wrote about the work he was producing; “For several years now, my work has dealt with certain formal considerations. Chief among these is using clay in such a way as to crystallize the moment and permanentize the impermanent. These have been among the primary concerns of all potters since the earliest times.” Today, Kemenyffy continues his pursuit of biomorphic imagery and themes. He writes, “Personally I am most challenged by the business of transforming porous organics into porcelain.” For much of Kemenyffy’s career, he has worked in tandem with his wife, Susan Hale Kemenyffy. In 1987 Susan stated about their collaborative works: “Steven is the [sculptor], I am the drawer. These works would not exist if it weren’t for the sculpture; if it weren’t for the clay. The clay entity comes first and my drawings come second.” James Paul Thompson further clarifies this relationship (as observed in 1987): “Steven Kemenyffy uses patterns as a point of departure for his work, while Susan Kemenyffy allows the people and things around her to become partial inspiration in addition to what Steven gives her.”
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