Jake Johnson Biography
I live and work in Waynesboro, VA. My work has appeared in more than 30 exhibitions across the U.S., and in publications such as Clay Times and Lark Books’ 500 series. I sell my work online and through galleries. I recently moved to Virginia with my wife Katie after living in Pennsylvania for some time, where I earned an MFA in ceramics at Penn State. Before that, I studied ceramics and sculpture at Bradley University in my hometown of Peoria, Illinois. The inspiration for my work is drawn from nature; I try to give my pieces a sense of gesture and energy that I see in all kinds of life. You can see images of my work at jakesclayart.com.
Jake Johnson Description
The first time I made something years ago, something clicked for me. The act of making something from relatively nothing made it seem that there was something special about me. It was unlike any work I'd done before—much more meaningful somehow. I was hooked. I began to take art classes in college to see what else I could do. Through exposure to various artists, I learned that there were some who made a living making their craft. Once it occurred to me that this possibility existed, I was convinced that it was what I wanted for myself.
I think I was drawn to clay because of its working properties; Clay is a very squishy, soft, malleable material. These are qualities which I fully embrace and exploit in making my pieces. By giving my work just some of the basic qualities of life--a sense of movement, growth, and breath—the pieces develop presence and take on unique personalities and trajectories. I strive to give a feeling of animation to my work that suggests gesture. This speaks to the inspiration for many of my forms and surfaces, which is drawn from nature. I spend a lot of time in the woods, hiking, looking for mushrooms, and finding plenty of other things along the way. The variety and diversity of life that I encounter finds its way into my work.
For me, working for myself and making things with my hands makes me feel more grounded and perhaps more human. My work is not rooted in a particular tradition or style, but rather a tempo or mood that I think comes from some combination of my personality and my interest in nature and biology. I try to make works that engage users visually and tactfully, while also fulfilling a purpose for the user. While I've gone through many styles and types of work, I think that feeling of animation and energy has remained constant, and it is this which I view as the defining characteristic of what I produce.