ARTIST Joan Bontempo

Joan Bontempo is a Display Artist exhibiting her unique folded Raku Pottery and sculptures.  Her work is in demand in private and public collections.

“I can throw a perfectly round, clean edge and traditionally beautiful form. But why would I? Silhouettes, edges, surfaces, rims and feet all are opportunities for change. My favorite question is ‘What if I…pinch, bend, spill, poke, scratch and roll?’

“My work has grown from traditional forms and methods to experimental techniques, with clay combined with other materials or found objects, sometimes emulating folded cloth, including altered canvases or metal, to non-traditional vessels and more recently to figurative work expressing personal psychology, archetypal forms and spiritual musings.

“I seem to have recurring interest in various themes, re-addressing them from time to time. The more I teach about the ancient arts, the more enamored I am with certain art forms from centuries ago… the Greeks and Romans and even before, and the modernists and the abstract expressionists – the movement and inspired poses we see as expression beyond the remnants of the visible form. Beyond the technique, beyond the materials.  

“My present vision addresses archetypes, defenders and prophets – spirits that are timeless and in ancient mythologies. Think Nike – with no arm, no head and no figure, but with gentle movement and delicate cloth in improbably hard rock.

“When I put the clay-wrapped foam figure into the kiln, the foam figure burns away, leaving just form and movement—a kind of anti-figure figure formed with clay, slips, lace and canvas, glazed hard with metallic embellishments

“Other themes besides spirits include a whirlwind or tornado, or a voluminous wrapped, but empty, container. All hard to hold in content…full of presence nonetheless. Maybe that’s the point.

Joan Bontempo is an American artist whose work in ceramics and mixed media have been exhibited nationally for more than 40 years. Major exhibits include Pyro Protagonists:

 A Generation of Influential Ceramic Artists at the Washington County Museum of Fine Arts, Hagerstown, MD; the Snite Museum of Art, University of Notre Dame, Lubeznik Art Center, Michigan City, IN, International Ceramics Invitational; the Lakeside Studio International Artist program, Lakeside, MI; Detroit Institute of Art, Detroit, MI and Navy Pier, Chicago, IL, “New art Forms Exposition”.

Joan received her MFA in ceramics from Wayne State University, Detroit MI following her BFA from the University of Notre Dame, Notre Dame IN. Presently she lives in Knoxville TN.