Jim Gottuso

Artist Statement

I am very interested in the complete cycle of creating clay objects. Working on the wheel has provided a framework, grounded in functionality, which allows creativity to fourish. Functional demands inform aesthetics and vice versa creating an evolution that hopefully moves forward to better work.

Imperfections that occur while aspiring to perfection are exciting and learning to let them be has been a challenge. Not setting out with strict limitations always allows some wiggle room to let something become something else. This makes each object’s creation different and the immense frontier of possibilities provides exhilaration. Wondering about the unknown results in the coming years of trial and error, a period that all potters eventually get under their belts, appeals to a sense of anticipation about the promise of the future.

Sculpture was the area of fne art I pursued in graduate school and this nonfunctional 3D experience provides a subconscious foundation to decide whether a form satisfes my internal aesthetic or not and allows me to trust decisions made on the wheel without dwelling on them overtly. The decorative motifs and the evolution of said motifs are inspired by admiring natural beauty as well as the gamut of manmade visual vocabularies. There is a certainty of action that is apparent with many painters, sculptors, calligraphers etc. in their brushstrokes or marks in clay that is evidence of a wealth of experience and honing that I always respond to and I aspire to have that quality show up in my own work.

For many years I've been drawn to certain drawing, painting and calligraphic styles and usually cite artists like Cy Twombly and Mark Tobey as infuences along with my perception of Jung's automatic writing but after many years of not really caring about the origins of infuence, I've come to believe that I've always just been in love with what happens when a brush, pen or pencil makes contact with another surface and using shellac as a resist on dried, unfred clay allows the surface to be etched without losing the immediacy and spontaneity of such brushwork.


I throw porcelain on the wheel and fre to ^6 in an oxidation environment. One technique used frequently is painting a resist on the unfred piece freehand and later, etching away the exposed area with water. This technique can be repeated with drying time in between to create layers of etched design. Sometimes a colored slip is applied to the exposed area after the etching that accentuates the design by boosting the contrast between the clay body and the etched area. Lately, I’ve added terra sigillata to the mix and fnd that the tightness of the particles allows an even greater detail to the shellacking process.

-- Jim Gottuso