The Rapidian

Izzy Goes To Italy

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Izzy traveled to Muggia in May; spending two weeks building a wood-fired kiln with his long-time friend and former instructor, Bill Farrell.
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On the northern coast of Italy, sits the small city of Muggia. Surrounded by a system of hills, Muggia’s name is derived from the ancient word for coastal swamp. But when Israel (Izzy) Davis, Director of Ceramics at UICA and Professor at Kendall College of Art and Design, speaks about Muggia, the only thing that he discusses is his affection for the place.

Izzy traveled to Muggia in May; spending two weeks building a wood-fired kiln with his long-time friend and former instructor, Bill Farrell. In 2000, Farrell became the Artistic Director for the Ceramica Artistica Prospettiva—an international biennial symposia for ceramic arts. Farrell enlisted the help of Izzy to build the kiln to support upcoming symposia programs.

Izzy had been to Europe before, but only as a casual tourist. This trip he was fully immersed in the Italian culture; working side-by-side with a team of volunteers, sharing meals with his hosts, and even performing his own brand of country rock during a gig at a local establishment, Bar Naut. There he was billed as “Special Guest from USA.” But more gratifying than the praise of adoring fans was the warm fuzzies he received from the community who immediately embraced him with their hospitality and generosity.

Ceramica Artistica Prospettiva operates through a family-run cooperative that manufactures production-ware ceramics—basic functional pottery. The cooperative employs the help of many workers with physical and mental disabilities. A half dozen of these folks along with a handful of people working off community service assisted Izzy and Farrell sorting and cleaning bricks for their new kiln, as the kiln was created using recycled materials.

Izzy and Farrell were asked to create a wood-fueled kiln because the atmospheric and mineral content affects glazes differently than an electric or gas fired one. Also, the process of wood-firing involves a group effort that will impart a sense of community amongst volunteers, workers, and artists who are involved with the cooperative. Although it’s a centuries old technique, this kiln is unique for the area. The completed kiln, which measures approximately 8’ x 4’ x 12’ allows for a relatively fast firing, taking only 25-30 hours from start to finish. It will serve both the cooperative and future workshops.

Izzy will return to Muggia in August to participate in the first firing and perhaps more often as he assumes greater leadership in future Ceramica Artistica Prospettiva programming and events. 

Learn more about Izzy’s work at the Detroit Artists’ Market in Unmentionables through July 16 and at the Krasl Art Center in St. Joe for his solo installation entitled, Instructional / Play from June 10 to July 31.

And of course, join UICA as we reopen our ceramics program at the new ceramics studio this fall. Go to for more information about classes later this summer.

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