Kiln-Fired was born out of necessity:  We needed to expand our potential for raising money for a project we had already undertaken and for which we were tapping out our own resources.  This was the Rarámuri project, finally completed after nine years.  

Of course, as soon as we started to think seriously about what we were doing and where we wanted to go, we realized that there were all kinds of educational/entertaining projects we could really believe in.  We realized we brought a lot to the table:  Combined, we had over one hundred years of experience in comunication that matters: sixty years in writing and education, fifty in the graphic arts and close to forty in the making of films.

Originally, we were three:  Richard Hendrick, the current Jefe; John Donaghy, a Dartmouth College instructor and very good writer; and Eric O'Leary, a gifted potter/ceramic artist, whose website can be found here.  We probably flew too close to the sun - at least in our ambitions - and over-loaded our wings with the freight of too many potential projects, learning too late that in this business, most projects are more (albeit well-meant) pipe-dream than practical.  Whatever the reasons, we floundered a bit and John and Eric eventually dropped out, though they remain interested and supportive.

We met in the early days at Eric's pottery, hence the name.  We especially liked the juxtaposition of the primitive and the (implied) modern.

Our idea was and remains that we wanted to - and felt we could - facilitate communication across boundaries imposed by culture, class, race, faith and ideology.  Our aim is to bring disparate groups together into larger, more diverse and resilient communities – communities that are able to confront more creatively the problems posed by poverty, violence, racism and environmental degradation.  We are especially interested in bringing those who live on the margins of our awareness into  conversations that bring us news of ourselves and solve problems for us all.

Our means of creating these shared realities was to be documentary film, workshops (and other structured educational experiences) and cross-cultural exchanges.  We have so far concentrated on film (though we did spend a lot of time and energy on a creative project that never took flight:  a major exhibition about the effort to rid pottery glazes in Mexico and other countries of deadly lead).

Marshall McLuhan isn't much quoted these days, but we still believe he gave voice to a very important Truth:   "The medium is the message."  Actually, we don't think it is the whole message (and neither did he), but it sure is a powerful part of it.  As we note in our Mission Statement, "A manipulative, authoritarian film cannot and will not help an audience to more sensitivity to other points of view; a work of art that ignores its context, the origin of its materials, its incidental effects on the community in which it stands, cannot and will not encourage its audience to examine their own impact on the world."

So we are still somewhat (and with any luck, will always be) a work in progress.  See our current Projects to get a better idea of what we are up to and where we might be going.


© Richard Hendrick 2012