Marvin Bjurlin began working with clay while in college in 1963. It was the subject of his degree in graduate school. Upon retiring from a 40 year teaching career in ceramics at State University of New York at Fredonia, he began, in his own studio, to focus almost entirely on hand built ceramic sculpture exploring a marine theme.
Marvin works with a variety of high temperature tolerant clays. He does not use glaze, but rather lets the wood fueled firing provide surface patina. Color and texture is thus affected by the type of kin, placement in the chamber, the fuel wood used, the length of the firing and the rate of cooling.
\\\"My pieces have had to “swim” in the intense and extended atmosphere of the fire where the kiln serves as a sort of wind funnel of flame. Some of the firings have lasted five days reaching cone 12 (2550 degrees F). In such cases the ash glaze buildup flows like water would around a fish in its natural habitat.”
Marvin is inspired by the exotic forms found in marine life. He finds the particular way in which fish have evolved to adapt to their watery existence to be compelling. The enormous variety of forms provides a fertile source of sculptural exploration. Marvin’s choices are selected from marine environments around the world. The finished works do not attempt to illustrate the species, but rather to distill and transform the shapes into sculpture. When mounted at eye level or higher, the forms can be encountered frontally, thus presenting a perspective on fish seldom experienced in nature. He is particularly interested in suggesting individual expression or personality in each sculpture.