Mark Johnson


Curiosity about the visual world and the desire to create meaning and give order to experience has fueled my interest in art making.

As I reflect on some of my earliest experiences in studio art, the transformational aspect of art making stands out as one of the key considerations.  To begin with an observation and translate it into a drawing, to use a viewfinder to crop the world into a photograph, to mold clay into a vessel or a sculpture, all of these actions involve an exhilarating process of transformation.

My interests and influences are varied.  The history of art has been a profound source of inspiration across many periods and cultures.  I have been inspired by the directness of early cave drawings, the mathematical elegance of Islamic tiles and pottery, and the space and spirituality of Romanesque and Gothic cathedrals.  Korean celadon pottery with its playful references to forms of the natural world and Native American vessels painted with powerful shapes and symbols demonstrate that pottery can be used as a means to understand and transform everyday experience.

Another interest has been the forces and processes of the natural world. The metaphor of the garden and the process of botanical growth, change and the shifting balance of control and accident in nature provides continued inspiration.  I relate the kiln firing process of ceramics with geological forces that transform material and make forms permanent.

Pottery is an art form that emphasizes both material and process.  Clay is a material that is ironically both simple and complex.  Fire and glaze interact with the clay to form a collaborative statement.

It is my goal to make pottery relevant to our time, and to give it a meaningful place in our culture.  It is my desire to restate the value of the handmade object and to see this object as a metaphor for the importance of the individual and the value of shared human experience.  This effort forms a bridge between the traditions of the past and concerns of the present to create a springboard for future work.  Each piece offers the opportunity to improvise and to discover new relationships.  A successful piece of pottery reveals itself over time to be a blend of visual, tactile, and conceptual messages.

Living with pottery, we learn something about the pottery maker and ourselves.   We share the pathways of touch, and through repeated use, we add vitality to our daily activities.  In this way pottery is about communication and a celebration of the essential things that make us human.