Brenda Cowley Johnson was born and raised in the red rock country of Southern Utah. She graduated from Utah State University with a BFA in interior design and fabric design but spent a career teaching public school art education. Now the majority of her studio time is spent making ceramic art tiles and sculpture. The colors of the red rock country of the American Southwest and a love of graphic boldness and pattern influence her ceramic sculpture.
Brenda’s smoke fired, hand burnished ceramic sculpture is subtle, ephemeral and complex. Her forms are slab built and painted with colored clay slip. Over a slow multi day drying period they are repeatedly burnished with a smooth bone tool until the surface maintains a rich luster. The objects are low fired in an electric kiln. Additional patterns are applied with a resist slip of kaolin and silica, then placed in a smoky fire of organic material. Areas under the resist slip maintain their original color, all else changes to a range of grey to brown to black, depending on the length and composition of the smoking process. Then the resist slip is removed and the object is cleaned and waxed.