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Joe Campbell - Ceramic Artist

My career as an artist and art educator began so long ago that it is truly hard to think clearly about the beginnings. I began making pots in 1968 while in high school, and haven't stopped this pursuit for the past 45 years. The brush making began about 25 years ago when I had a dear friend - Glen Grishkoff - come to my college and conduct a brush making workshop for my students. I made a few brushes that I used to decorate my own work but enjoyed the "making" so much that it quickly grew into "too many brushes for one studio!" The brush making business has taken on a life of its own and I am thankful for that.

In terms of ceramic work, there are two "mes" and consequently two genres of pots from my studio. I am essentially always a vessel maker, not a "sculptor," but I am also always concerned about the art and design of my work. Yes, I care that the pieces I make will function well in their appropriate context, but that should never be allowed to override the art and design of the pots.

I make "domestic" pots - pots that I hope will find a comfortable place in your kitchen, mantle, or wall. I also make pots that are specifically crafted for use in the Japanese Tea Ceremony - Tea Bowls (Chawan), Water Jars (Mizusashi), etc. I make no claims to be a cultural expert in this genre, but rather I have a passion to study and understand historic Tea Ware and I respond to that inquiry with my own contemporary work.

I have just recently retired after 34 years as an Art/Ceramics Professor and find myself alone in my studio to work for the first time in MANY years. Very strange, but very welcome. There is little doubt that I learned far more from my students over these teaching years than I may have taught to them and it is a treasure and pleasure to put this learning to work with this change in my career. Very early on, right out of graduate school, I worked as the Potter at Old Bedford Village in Bedford, PA. At the time it was "staffed" with craftspeople in many media and I built and operated an early 19th Century earthenware pottery kick wheel and firing with a wood kiln. Easy to get to temperature, but VERY hard to burn clean enough not to damage the ware. This too taught me far more than I may have taught any visitors through my interpretation. Some good, some not so good.