Eva Funderburgh: Mythical Worlds
BIMA is delighted to host Seattle-based artist Eva Funderburgh in her first solo art museum exhibition. Featured are over twenty wood-fired ceramic and bronze sculptures, reflecting Funderburgh’s world of mythical beasts. The exhibition includes a swarm of two-hundred ceramic “fliers,” suspended together in an installation titled Murmuration. Funderburgh’s processes mix both control and relinquishment of earth and fire, revealing complex primal instincts, familiar gestures, and dreamlike narratives.
About the Artist
Eva Funderburgh is a Seattle-based sculptor working in ceramic, bronze, and installation. She was born in Seattle and grew up in Kansas before moving to Pittsburgh at age 16. In Pittsburgh, Eva attended Taylor Allderdice High school and was a student at Manchester Craftsman’s Guild. These formative experiences at MCG and the Pennsylvania Governor’s School for the Arts encouraged her to pursue an art career.
After attending Carnegie Mellon University, where she received a Bachelor’s of Science and Art, she returned to her birthplace of Seattle, where she focused on ceramics.
In 2010, she was an artist in residence in Denmark at the Guldagergaard International Ceramic Research Center, an experience that inspired her to revisit her college installation work. After the residency, she expanded the scope of her art, working in installation and bronze casting and continuing her work in ceramics. In 2015, she was part of Seattle’s Office of Arts and Culture Public Art Boot Camp.
She now teaches bronze casting part-time at Pratt Fine Art Center and is a full-time sculptor working in public art, installation, ceramics, and cast bronze. In 2019, she returned to Guldagergaard for a second residency. During the trip, she started a guerrilla art project, where she recruited her online followers to hide small sculptures worldwide. As a result, she now has artwork hidden (and in private collections) in at least twenty countries.
About the Artistic Process
Eva Funderburgh’s ceramic work is wood fired in an anagama kiln, a Japanese term meaning “cave kiln.” Ceramic artists who fire with wood are looking for a unique look caused by the kiln’s flame, ash, and atmosphere — allowing the ash and the flame to decorate. Eva will use darker stonewares for the antlers on her creatures or purer porcelains for their teeth and seldom add glazes.
Anagama kilns can be 15-18 feet long and reach up to 2,300 degrees Fahrenheit. By carefully and strategically placing sculptures within the firing chamber, the kiln can be encouraged to allow the flame to play across surfaces resulting in stunning colors and reactions.
Eva will collaborate with at least nine artists in firing their work together in the anagama kiln, each taking eight-hour shifts through the 120-hour process. For both the clay and the artists, wood firings can be stressful. But, in the end, they trust the work to the fire and the kiln.
For the past 15 years, Eva has been part of the firing crew at two Japanese-style anagama wood kilns in Washington state. She is presently managing one of those two kilns — Ken Lundemo’s “Santatsugama.”
In myths, logic operates with different rules. Cows are traded for beans, tricksters steal stars, and women are seduced by swans. No one asks why — things just happen this way because this is how things happen.
This simple and absurd “rightness of being” appears repeatedly in my work. Beasts proudly carry moons and suns, and cities sprout from the backs of serene monsters. Yet, at the same time, my simple, emotive forms allow me to explore the animal nature of humanity.
We eat, we strive, and we encounter conflict and companionship. My beasts, in their simplicity, stumble through the same behaviors.
I use these stylized beasts to tackle such universal experiences in a way that is both familiar and foreign simultaneously. Although my work is deliberately non-human, it’s hard to think of a more apt way of describing humankind than the intersection of myth and biology.
BIMA is proud to host Seattle-based artist Eva Funderburgh marking her first solo art museum exhibition, Mythical Worlds.
Funderburgh’s “myth play” begins with clay pinch pots which are then broken apart, sculpted, and reattached while preserving a hollow middle. Each creature’s metaphorical insides are revealed through careful sculpting of the clay — then warm hues and unique patterns rendered from the wood firing fill Funderburgh’s creatures with life. The range of selected works demonstrates her expertise in sculpture, wood-fired ceramics, and installation.
Funderburgh’s sculpture and organic chemistry degrees from Carnegie Mellon University and years of experience are foundational to understanding the external elements that dictate her creative process and results. Creatures materialize from the kiln — a symbiosis of host and prey, menacing or curious, or gestures of empathy. She describes the outcome from each wood firing as “a collaboration with the fire and clay to reveal an undreamed surprise.”
The age-old practice of wood-fired ceramics easily lends itself to the myth-like stories Eva Funderburgh’s creatures (also referred to as beasts or monsters) embody. Resembling prehistoric animals in France’s Chauvet Cave paintings or children’s stories of old, they are simultaneously mysterious and uniquely familiar. Round bodies, attenuated limbs, warm gestures, or a grin showing a few teeth entice the viewer to connect and explore a new world.
BIMA Associate Curator