A Fire Sculpture is a monumental piece of ceramic sculpture, built and fired on location.
The work begins with a performance, in which the sculptor and the fire are collaborative participants.
The project climaxes with the opening of the tulip-like kiln while at peak temperature, with participation from the audience. The resulting sculpture remains in place, as a permanent relic of the performance.
Sergei works together with Andres Allik, a master kiln builder from Estonia in creating Fire Sculptures in various international locations.
EARTH & FIRE at TurnPark Art Space | West Stockbridge, Massachusetts 2022
Fire Sculpture at Guldagergaard International Ceramic Research Center | Guldagergaard, Denmark 2017
Fire Sculpture produced for Firefest at STARWorks | Star, North Carolina, US 2016
I create public, large-scale works that are collaborative, performative, and remain visible for the public to enjoy. Working in a public setting, the intimate process of the studio is revealed to all who watch the daily progress of building with clay. During the firing, audiences become engaged in the completion as they witness the transformation of the material. Poets and musicians interact with the audience at the moment of revelation. The collective experience of creating the sculpture binds the community together and is represented by the finished sculpture situated in a permanent, accessible location to be enjoyed in four seasons.
The first commissions to produce Fire Sculptures were at art centers in Denmark and North Carolina to build large-scale on-site using petal kilns built and designed by Anders Allik.
Public Art Commissions involve production costs that are funded by private, non-profit, donations, and volunteer streams, and lead to collaborations with existing programs and diverse audiences. I seek collaboration with nearby art organizations that produce a performance as well as others that provide open access to a wider community and organizations that partner with community programs, work with youth, and are accessible to non-art-centric populations.
Accepting Proposals to build and fire Public Art Fire Sculptures, including facilitating my work: Hand-building outside with 800+ lbs. of clay, open to the elements involves a team of people over several weeks. Culminates in the wood firing that takes place over two days. The final performance coincides with the opening of the kiln at peak temperature.
EARTH & FIRE
2022, Sculpture, Public Art Commission
TurnPark Art Space,
West Stockbridge, MA (USA), 2022
On June 11, TurnPark Art Space hosted Sergei Isupov and master kiln builder Andres Allik for a truly unique spectacle: the first petal kiln firing in New England. To build Earth & Fire Isupov used 800 lbs of clay to build a nine foot sculpture that was revealed at peak temperature. WATCH the 2 minute time lapse video for a glimpse at this incredible project.
ANNUAL TURNPARK SUMMER FESTIVAL: Healing Flames
June 11, 4-11 p.m., TurnPark Art Space, West Stockbridge, MA
The centerpiece of the Festival will be the firing of Earth & Sky, a large-scale ceramic sculpture by Sergei Isupov. The festival begins at 4 pm during the hottest part of the firing and continues until the eight foot tall kiln is opened like the petals of a flower while at peak temperature to reveal the fiery glowing sculpture at 10 pm.
EARTH & SKY build and fire team:
Andres Allik, master kiln builder
Wendy Ajootian Jackson
2017, Sculpture, Public Art Commission
Guldagergaard International Ceramic Research Center, Guldagergaard, Denmark 2017
In June, 2017, Sergei Isupov joined the long list of artists asked to create a permanent Fire Sculpture for the expanding sculpture grounds at Guldagergaard International Ceramic Research Center. Guldgergaard’s fire sculpure tradition was passed down from artist Nina Hole, who in speaking of her work in “Structure, Process, and Fire” in the Studio Potter Journal, said,
“My inspiration for the Fire Sculptures came out of my frustration over the limitations of kiln size and building and drying time. Moreover, it has always bothered me that many outside sculptures do not fit the landscape in which they are placed.
Process has always been the most important aspect, from sketch to finished work. Having worked in many countries with new sets of assistants, each place in a new environment has taught me to be flexible and to be grateful for the support and insight given to me. The peak moment for me is when we let the curtain fall and the sculpture is revealed in its glowing stage. A short moment, never to be repeated. Sawdust thrown onto the piece keeps the temperature from falling too fast. This also flares up and brings the sculpture back to life. The color changes little by little and the true colors appear when the work has cooled off.
I do not seek perfection or beauty. I am intrigued by imperfection, the absurd, and the interdisciplinary way of thinking. By working this way with my Fire Sculpture I invite the public to participate in my risk-taking. This forces me to “get my act together” and be 100 percent focused.”
2016, Sculpture, Public Art Commission
Star, NC (USA), 2016
In 2016, STARworks hosted Sergei Isupov and master kiln builder Andres Allik for a truly unique spectacle: the first petal kiln firing in the USA of Sergei’s work.
Sergei’s Fire Sculpture, featuring a stacked couple, was made in North Carolina at Starworks as part of the organization’s annual Firefest program. The two-head stacked piece was produced in both small-scale maquettes and as a large sculpture that was fired after the process of Danish artist Nina Hole. Nina Hole (founder of the Guldageraard International Artist Residency in Skælskør, Denmark) was known to produce large-scale, architectural sculptures that were fired on location as self-contained kiln/sculptures. Nina might have been the first one to make the sculpture as the kiln itself, “fire-sculptures”. Technician Andres Allik built the kiln Sergei’s sculpture at Starworks was fired in especially for Sergei. The sculpture was realized with a group of helpers who assisted Sergei to construct, glaze, and fire the large “Fire-sculpture” during their “FireFest” in 2016, and the stacked couple sculpture shown is about a recurring theme in his work: relationships.
Link to Blue Line Arts Workshop:
(FireFest 2016 was featured in the January 2017 Ceramics Montly)
Link to Starworks Firefest 2016: