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  • Writer's pictureShea Stanfield

Following the Sun and the Wind

Visitors to the American Southwest find the landscape clear and palpable; its energy makes you pay attention to where the sun is, where the winds are, and the power of place. This year's journey of discovery has taken artist Sylvia Fugmann-Brongo from the ancient site of the Sun Dagger in Chaco Canyon, New Mexico, through the haunting landscapes of Georgia O'Keeffe's Ghost Ranch outside of Taos, to the grandeur of Colorado's most deadly 'fourteeners,' Maroon Bells of Aspen/Snowmass legend. Sylvia's inspiration for her work in ceramics and creative glaze combinations literally comes from the Earth.

Born in Rochester, New York, Sylvia grew up in nearby Ontario. She considers herself fortunate to have benefited from a strong art program during high school with an outstanding art teacher, Judith Burkhardt. Her parents encouraged Sylvia's creativity, allowing her to gain a firm foundation in painting, drawing, printmaking, sculpture, and clay.

By the time she reached college, she knew her major would be art. Meeting ceramics professor, Mary Jane Edwards at Nazareth College of Rochester inspired and focused Sylvia's college years and her career as a ceramic artist. Sylvia loved the fluidity, organic feel, and smells of the earth that working with clay provided. She discovered creating by hand, with slabs and coils of clay, gave her the maximum freedom for her inspiration. In using the hand-built method, Sylvia's creations provide the opportunity for freeform, naturally organic shape and a surprisingly fun, unique quality in each piece. Combine this with innovative textural combinations and eclectic color application Sylvia's ceramic works, in the form of a vase, wall plaque, garden ornament, bowl, or even a mural, creates stunning conversational pieces for both indoor and outdoor environments.

In 1981, Sylvia completed her Bachelor of Science in Art Education Degree. Soon after, in 1983, she established a working clay studio and began traveling nationally and internationally, gathering inspiration for her work. Along the way, Sylvia participated in several juried solo and group exhibitions. By 2006, Sylvia had relocated to Arizona, settling in Cave Creek, where she built a 700-square-foot studio on her home property. Sylvia worked at Paradise Valley Community College in the Office of Recruitment for several years. She says, "I loved the job. It allowed me to use my life skills to assist students in learning about college life at PVCC, as well as helping them navigate the application process." Today, Sylvia is back in her studio full-time, traveling several months a year for additional inspiration. She loves the flexibility and freedom an open schedule provides at this time in her life.

Sylvia's travels are more than a vacation; she is on the job during her time on the road. She packs along the raw materials to continue the creation process; these take the form of clay, sketch materials, and paints to capture the various aspects of her favorite moments with Mother Nature. She shares, "I always feel alive when I can find a serene place in the forest, desert, river, lake, or ocean. It is freeing. A beautiful and peaceful space gives me great joy and energizes me." Sylvia has undoubtedly established a widespread reputation for her organic forms and soft hue glazes. Her collectors recognize her work by its organic and colorful surfaces embodied in the sense of movement. She has been told the finishing method often resembles paper, glass, wood, and even leather instead of clay.

"I always feel alive when I can find a serene place in the forest, desert, river, lake, or ocean. It is freeing. A beautiful and peaceful space gives me great joy and energizes me."

Sylvia adds, "Recently, I have been focusing more on collage and mixed media design work. An example is using wood as a base and adding pieces of clay, copper, and fossils or agates into the work. I call the series "Sycamore." I also collect rusted metal during my hikes in the desert to add to my pieces." Sylvia Fugmann-Brongo is excited to introduce the new collection to her shows this season. She is a juried member of the Sonoran Arts League and participates in the League's annual Hidden in the Hills Studio tour each November. Her work is also represented by Wild Holly Gallery in Carefree, Arizona. Sylvia offers hand-built ceramic classes at her studio when she is not on the road; she encourages you to check her website for details. In the meantime, with the spirit of Georgia O'Keefe's high desert interpretations, Sylvia will help you beautifully fill your space through her exquisitely rendered hand-built ceramics.


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