My intent is to create works of art that speak for themselves in unique, beautiful and elegant voices. All that I see, all that I experience, has the potential the become a clay vessel, and etching, a drawing, a poem.

Images beat at my eyes, agitated, demanding to be let out, to be born. Oh to discipline the untrained dog that is my imagination. Then maybe I can sleep.



Robert G. Leland is a studio artist in Wagoner, Oklahoma. He has studied art at Western Illinois University – Macomb, Illinois; Southern Illinois University – Carbondale, Illinois and Northeastern State University – Talequah, Oklahoma. He has been formerly trained in painting, drawing, printmaking and pottery; his greatest joy comes from working with clay. “Clay has been a major discovery in my life.”

When Robert studied ceramic art at NSU, he became extremely interested in pottery, particularly Southeast Woodland style pottery Red River Ware. An area known for centuries as a center of culture, the Three Forks area in Oklahoma is where his studio is located. He was very fortunate to find a vein of clay on his property, the same clay used by potters like him for centuries.

Most clay is impure and needs an additive to give the clay the desired properties. The clay Robert uses is clean, well compounded, and additives are not necessary. “The use of clay directly from the ground is so thrilling.” There are many steps in the creation of pottery. Shaping is one of the first steps once you have the clay. Staying true to traditional Southeast Woodland style Robert does not use a potter’s wheel, shaping is accomplished using the coil method which is a pinching and pressing of the clay into the desired shape. The second step is to decorate the piece; Robert uses burlap, cane, bone, and stone. Another way he decorates the piece is using slip, which is thinned clay that is applied in layers over the existing pottery. Mishima is another method used for decoration. Mishima is a decorative technique of Korean origin. An incised line is filled with wet clay of a contrasting color. When it is partially dried the contrasting colored clay is scraped flush revealing the design underneath. Polishing is done with a smooth stone. Polishing is a slow and tedious process. Polished clay has the feel of finished wood. Sawdust firing (smoking) is also used to enhance the beauty of each form. This is what gives the piece such variation in color. The patterns made by sawdust firing are random and unpredictable patterns, which add to the beauty and authenticity. Patterns depend on the relationship between clay and fire for its color not on glaze. Robert uses these techniques to create ancient designs and patterns accurate to the Woodland period. “I believe the pursuit of impeccable craftsmanship lends honesty and integrity to my work.”