Peter Syak: 32
Ann’s Place Gallery
September 21-November 10
Opening Reception: September 27, 7:30-9 PM
Peter Syak, Bit by Bit, 1987, raku ceramic, 7 x 7 inches
This Visual Arts Center of New Jersey Members Committee exhibition highlights Peter Syak’s 32-year ceramics career and close relationship with the Art Center.
During the first half of his professional life, Peter Syak was not yet pursuing a life in clay. He earned a bachelor’s degree in Biomedical Engineering and a master’s degree in Business Administration and began his career helping to design artificial hips and knees for Stryker Instruments. The next 10 years were spent at AT&T where he got used to wearing a suit and tie to the office. Then, in 1996, he took a chance to chase a dream and started his own ceramics studio.
His pivotal moment came in 1986 when attending a workshop at the Visual Arts Center of New Jersey, then known as the Summit Art Center. He discovered that one could place red-hot clay covered with molten glaze into flammable substances and produce breathtaking works of art. Peter’s love of Raku was both immediate and enduring. He has carefully and painstakingly developed his unique techniques over the past 30 years by studying with many of New Jersey’s foremost ceramics artists and working alongside some of the giants in the field.
His distinctive style juxtaposes clean architectural lines and natural ornamentation. Bright copper lusters and rich hued glazes are offset by rich, black, etched designs. Ancient eastern motifs are typically paired with simple geometric forms to produce work that is at once dynamic and visually pleasing. His work continues to evolve, and new themes and techniques are frequently incorporated in the development of each new series. Over the past 10 years, Peter’s work has pursued a number of exciting new avenues. Among them are intricately layered monoprints featuring leaves, paper cutouts, and an array of visually arresting found objects. He has also explored new firing techniques including foil-wrapped saggars, naked raku, and horsehair. His most recent raku work involves the combination of sculptural forms and painterly rendered landscapes that depict places with deep personal and emotional connections.
Peter currently teaches at Kean University, the Visual Arts Center of New Jersey, and has developed art programs for Bloomfield High School and Millburn High School. He also provides hand building and firing workshops at his studio in Bloomfield, New Jersey.