NBCCD Alumna Jennifer McInnis-Wharton: The Fire Tamer


Jennifer McInnis-Wharton is a sight to behold as she fearlessly pulls pots out of 1050 degree kiln and drops them into a pile of newsprint and sawdust, igniting the lot with the heat of the glowing ceramic. Equal parts brutal and dazzling, the process of Raku gifts her with marvels of metallic colour.

Jennifer is back at her old stomping grounds for a two-day fling in the NBCCD ‘Raku cage’. “Today is my favourite kind of day” she says. “It’s firing day!” She wastes no time, bringing with her a collection of experimental pots that transform in the process from off-white to flame-licked copper rainbow. She has not been in the cage for two years, not since she graduated from the New Brunswick College of Craft & Design, first with a Diploma in Ceramics, then with a Certificate in Graduate Studies (now known as Advanced Studio Practice). This firing day is a sweet farewell before she goes off on a big new adventure.

“I’ve done a lot of pursuing things. I took what my instructors said to heart and just started applying for everything, even when I wasn’t really sure I felt ready. With Craig last year [the Graduate Studies Coordinating Instructor] I set specifically my goals around learning more about arts administration, and increasing my networking abilities, and getting better at reaching out and talking to people, and getting better at applying for things.”

What came back from her submissions is a thrilling opportunity. Jennifer has been accepted to the renowned Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity for a year-long, expenses-paid Ceramics Studio Practicum:

“My primary job will be support for the artists-in-residence, such as assisting with processes and equipment, maintenance of studio spaces, and documenting them for video archives. Also, I will have the opportunity to attend presentations, workshops, and performances and to learn about equipment and processes within the other visual arts studios. I will be setting learning objectives with the guidance of my mentor and on most weeks I will have one day set aside to pursue my own projects and research (and keys to the palace to work as hard as I want on my own time!)”

Get Jennifer’s full story, including the challenges she has overcome, here.