Transcending The Functional

I am a studio potter in Lizella, Georgia. Most of the year I concentrate on functional pottery that hopefully transcends its functionality at least a little. These are the pots I sell on Etsy. Part of the year I concentrate on making pots that transcend the functional to the point that function takes a distant second place to expression. These are pots for shows and galleries.

Let's face it, a plastic pitcher is far more functional than a stoneware pitcher made by a studio potter. The plastic pitcher is lighter, transparent, has a flexible lid, doesn't drip, is dirt cheap and doesn't break. The aesthetic value of the wheel-thrown, handmade pitcher is the only thing it has to justify it costing thirty times more than the plastic pitcher.

Beauty is, as the saying goes, "in the eye of the beholder" and a search on Etsy is bound to pull up many pots that make even the cheap plastic pitcher look good, but we all shoot for beauty and sometimes hit fairly close to the bull's-eye. A good pot is every bit as expressive as the best painting or sculpture, plus functional ceramic art appeals to the sense of touch more than any other art form -- a hot cup of tea in your hand, a cup of coffee to your lips.

I studied pottery under Don Penny at Valdosta State in the early 70’s. In the mid-70’s I made a living in Colorado as a potter. My pots have been exhibited in the Denver Art Museum and galleries in Denver, Boulder, Santa Fe, Taos and other places. For several years I taught classes for the Denver Potters Guild. I stopped potting in the late '70's.

I started potting again in 2007 by firing the first pots I had made in over thirty years in Roger Jamison’s anagama near Juliette, Georgia. Since I ended my 30-year sabbatical I have been accepted in some of the most prestigious galleries and shows in the country and a collector for the Crocker Art Museum in Sacramento, California has purchased several of my wood-fired pots for a future permanent collection there.

In the '70's pottery was a job, now it is a passion.

Off Center Clay by Jim Sandefur

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