Jonathan Steele

Artist Statement

I’ve been making pottery since 2009 and focusing on the teapot and other wares for Gongfu tea service since 2016. I earned an MFA from OCAC in Portland, OR in 2016, was resident artist at Pleasant Hill Pottery 2016-2017 and have taught ceramics at University of Puget Sound and Lane Community College 2018-2019.

The teapot keeps me coming back because it requires so much precision and intention to do well—I’m refining and redesigning every time I enter the studio. Subtle changes in the way the lids sit and the proportions of the spouts and handles make dramatic differences in the way the pot feels in use. In Gongfu tea service, the intent presence with the motions of steeping and serving tea brings a sharp focus to the objects of service—I’m compelled to make work that lives at that table. My early pots bumble through those moments clumsily and I’m still in the pursuit of creating the wares that serve in silent elegance.

-- Jonathan Steele


I always thought I was going to be a scientist. It wasn’t until I had a physics degree and was thinking about an internship in a lab that I realized that I was an artist because instead of tightly controlling variables in my experiments for the sake of repeatable data and the logical development of theory, I prefer to pile on variables for the sake of aesthetic poignancy. I earned an MFA from Oregon College of Art and Craft in Portland, OR in 2016 and am currently the Artist in Residence at Pleasant Hill Pottery in Pleasant Hill, OR where I organize woodfirings for the community and make my work. I grew up in Seattle, WA.

— Jonathan Steele