Mercedes Muñoz holds a ceramic plate at her home studio on Monday, Oct. 28, 2019. Muñoz is showing her work at Coppa for First Friday. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire)

Mercedes Muñoz holds a ceramic plate at her home studio on Monday, Oct. 28, 2019. Muñoz is showing her work at Coppa for First Friday. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire)

Ceramics are messy, time-consuming and loved by this Juneau artist

She’s fired up about ceramics.

If you like speed and convenience in your creative endeavors, ceramics might not be for you.

Mercedes Muñoz, a born-and-raised Juneauite and artist, is drawn to the time-consuming and often messy art form because of the connection formed between pottery and its user — the way a mug can work its way into nearly every morning and the way an intentionally shaped handle or rim can shape that experience.

“I just love creating a functional piece of art,” Muñoz said in a phone interview. “Because most art is not functional. That was the first thing I’m drawn to, and I still talk about that when I write a biography or artist statement.”

Her functional artwork will be on display for First Friday and throughout the month at Coppa.

Ceramic cups freshly out of Mercedes Muñoz’s home studio kiln on Monday, Oct. 28, 2019. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire)

Ceramic cups freshly out of Mercedes Muñoz’s home studio kiln on Monday, Oct. 28, 2019. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire)

Muñoz said art that pairs form and function has been the appeal of ceramics since she first tried it while pursuing a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in Montana.

“When I took my first ceramics class, I just fell in love with it and had that be my concentration for my degree in undergrad,” Muñoz said.

Once returning home to Juneau, Muñoz said she worked at the Canvas Community Arts Studio & Gallery and was able to further hone her craft.

Muñoz said as she gained experience, she was able to combine her ceramics work with some of her other artistic loves, such as black and white drawings.

Many of the few dozen pieces that will be part of the First Friday show include surface decoration that channel Muñoz’s interest in drawing. The work included in the Friday show also incorporates glazes and details from some of Muñoz’s past work into a new amalgam of style and technique.

Mercedes Muñoz displays one of her mugs fresh out of her home studio on Monday, Oct. 28, 2019, as she prepares for a First Friday show at Coppa. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire)

Mercedes Muñoz displays one of her mugs fresh out of her home studio on Monday, Oct. 28, 2019, as she prepares for a First Friday show at Coppa. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire)

“I’m able to marry my passions,” Muñoz said. “I’m kind of always building on the skills and the techniques I’ve already learned. You can kind of see throughout the year that my work looks similar, and there are pieces that are the same, but there’s always going to be something different, too.”

She’s also been able to incorporate her artwork into her home life.

“When I was moving into my home, I wanted to make sure I had a space to do pottery myself,” Muñoz said. “There’s nothing like creating in your home. I slowly collected equipment over the years, so I could set that up in my garage.”

She said the convenience is nice, and she appreciates knowing where everything is and where pieces are at in their progress toward completion.

Muñoz said each piece takes a few hours of work and multiple firings in her kiln, which take up a day.

Mercedes Muñoz takes ceramic cups out of her home studio kiln on Monday, Oct. 28, 2019, as she prepares for a First Friday show at Coppa. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire)

Mercedes Muñoz takes ceramic cups out of her home studio kiln on Monday, Oct. 28, 2019, as she prepares for a First Friday show at Coppa. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire)

“It’s definitely a time-consuming art because I’ll come into the studio some days and not quite know what I’m going to be doing, and I’ll come in and not get to touch the whole day,” Muñoz said. “I’ll be making clay, or I’ll be mixing glazes, or I’ll be cleaning. There’s so much prep work. I would say I spend more time doing that stuff than creating.”

Despite all that spent time, Muñoz said she hopes her work is treated as functional pottery instead of home decor.

“I sometimes hear people say. ‘Oh, I put your mug up on a shelf, so I can look at it every day,’” Muñoz said. “I understand when people are purchasing art, they want to watch it and make sure nothing happens to it, but I’m always just like, ‘Use it, use it. If it breaks, that’s life. It’s meant for everyday life.’”

Know & Go:

What: First Friday Mercedes Muñoz Ceramics Exhibition

When: 4-6 p.m., Friday, Nov. 1

Where: Coppa, 916 Glacier Ave., No. 102

Admission: Free


• Contact reporter Ben Hohenstatt at (907)523-2243 or bhohenstatt@juneauempire.com. Follow him on Twitter at @BenHohenstatt.


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