Sunday, November 30, 2014


Recently I've been taking a break for working at the potter's wheel to explore some new hand built porcelain forms.  Many of these are informed by old sketches from graduate school that I recently uncovered while cleaning my studio, others reference landscape and rock formations that I've photographed in recent travels.  Either way, these pieces represent a body of work that has grown in parallel with my sculptural and functional vessel forms, and excited at the opportunity to begin to exhibit it.  Many of these forms still exist within the structure of the pot...vases, small box forms,
containers...while others exist as purely sculptural studies.

...small ikebana vase..

I've also begun posting images at Instagram under the user name john_oles.  I figured it was about time to shake my aversion to technology and, truthfully, it's a lot more convenient to post images directly from my iPhone.  

....celadon porcelain vase, ..hand built..

While the previous three pieces were made over the last month, the following images are of small sculptural pieces that were made around this time last year.  Looking back, there's a common thread that connects the work, but for a long time I was concerned about the way this work would exist within the context of my existing body of work.  Of course, only time will tell.....

....porcelain and black fired stoneware.... December, 2013.


One of my favorite things about making this work is in the process of working reductively with the material, as opposed to always building volume from the inside, as you would with pieces that were begun on the wheel.  Much like wheel throwing, this reductive sculptural process exploits many of clays inherent properties that make it a fascinating material.

...porcelain and black fired stoneware..

I'll end with a recent wheel thrown covered jar that I think might begin to bridge the gap between my hand built and wheel thrown pieces......


Monday, November 3, 2014


Recently, I've taken a teaching position at Delgado Community College here in New Orleans and, while it's been a busy few months of adjusting to a new studio and teaching schedule, I've fortunately been able to make a lot of work.  This is important, not only for sanity sake, but to fulfill my obligations to two important (albeit very different) shows I had lined up this fall.

the first was an exhibition with the photographer Mika Fowler at Jacksonville University in Florida.  They just completed construction on a beautiful new gallery space and we we the inaugural exhibition.
The title was Engaging Form, and it was really interesting to see how our work complimented each other in the context of interpreting.

The following images are just some quick shots with my iPhone camera.
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It's always embarrassing for me to take photos of work with my phone, especially while standing next to a professional artist/photographer! So, while these aren't necessarily the best representations of the new work, but they'll have to do.....

This week in Jacksonville included demo's with the students from Dana Chapman Tupa and Tiffany Leach's Ceramics I and II classes, as well as individual critiques with the Senior BFA students.

All of this was capped of with a Friends of the Arts hands- on workshop called (appropriately) Vodka and Vases, which was catered and featured vodka- based cocktails for the aid in the wheel throwing process, naturally!
....3 urns

Here are a few more shots of the work and the reception.  Again, please excuse the "yellowy- ness" and general lack of quality....

The next show was on the other end of the spectrum.  Earlier this year, before I had any teaching work lined up for the fall, I applied to the Peter Anderson Art Festival in Ocean Springs, MS.  I've never really been one for doing festivals, but I figured, what the hell....'might as well try it!  I've had some potter friends who've done quite well there over the years.....

Anyhow, I decided that, regardless of whether or not i sold any work, it would be a learning experience.  Now, my pots aren't really at home on a folding table under an Easy Up tent....they tend to be small and white (or pale celadon blue) and I really wanted to try to display them in context.  Usually, this context is in someone's home or in a gallery.  So, the display that I constructed was more about presenting the work in such a way that it was visually engaging and might help to make sense of these semi functional/semi sculptural objects to an audience who may or may not be familiar with much contemporary studio ceramics.

To be honest, I'm really proud of the set up.  I got to buy a lot of power tools (baby's first circular saw!) and wood and things that I don't normally get to play with......and I just love the smell of a Lowe's or Home Depot! Ahhhhh, ...the smell of Potential!....
Here are a few shots of the folding wall sections with added scavenged wood shelves......sort of going for a rustic/contemporary feel.  They're all stained in a Dark Cherry, with shelves in a slightly darker Kona, to really make the light colored pots "sing".

....teabowls and small cups.

...celadon whiskey cups on a shelf.

Like I said, it was supposed to be a learning experience, and I certainly leaned some stuff!  First off, I may or may not be exactly cut out for this kind of thing....we'll see.  The work sold pretty well, but not great.  It was quite different from what people had come to expect from the show and, while it received a lot of positive attention, that didn't always translate into sales.  But it was enjoyable talking with people and getting their reaction to the pots....(yes, you can really drink out of these...)  And, the folks who did buy them were very interested and appreciative of the quality and subtle nuances of porcelain.

It was also a good chance to refine some glazes and work on a few new forms like these little round sake cups and yunomi with a sugary white glaze that I've been struggling to get right for many years.

It will be good to get back ino the studio and start working on some higher end, individual pieces for the upcoming NCECA conference in Providence this March.  I was fortunate to be in a couple of high profile exhibitions that I'll tell you all more about as it gets closer to the new year but, for now, to class!  
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