John Dennison
Omaha, NE
www.dennisonpottery.com

John Dennison


To my mind no one has better captured the artist’s experience, as well as his reward, than the 19th century writer, designer, and socialist, William Morris: “Truth is making by hand, and making by hand is joy.” No modern or postmodern rhetoric. Simple making, simple joy, simple truth. This simplicity, coupled with a good deal of curiosity, fuels my work.
Much of my current work has evolved into a series entitled “Bowls Beyond Function.” These bowls and platters serve as a canvas—a surface on which to explore color, texture, theme, and mood. Each one is unique, distinguished by a dry, mottled, craggy surface, the result of several applications and multiple firings of glazes, under-glazes, oxides, and wax resist. I run a one-man studio, designing, throwing, glazing, firing, and finishing each piece. Even though I rely on a functional shape, these bowls are, for all intents and purposes, sculptural in nature.
My masks and other sculptural works often reflect my love of literature. Literary allusions, religious icons, and elements of pop culture often accent these works. I have made masks from early on. At one time, they evoked ideas of the primitive, or elements of the sea, or even the darkness of the human spirit. Today, many of them, as well as my sculptural boxes, touch on the similar themes. However, with the addition of iconic imagery, they have evolved into explorations of morality, race, music, modern media, and other topics. Often, I do integrate teapots and teacups on these face sculptures. No surprise since I’m a potter, I guess. But people often do ask. For me the sharing of tea suggests a communion with others, a mulling over of ideas: and, of course, tea and teapots have had a long and historical significance to potters.
In essence, working with clay provides me the opportunity to explore my loves. Whether it is making bowls, teapots, or masks, each brings new opportunities to find truth in “making by hand.”


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