Mark Zellers

Artist Statement

What I appreciate in finished pottery is seeing the process in the product. The best pots to me are ones that seem modest first then expressive, thoughtful first then bold.  When I work I try to create an opening within the scope of skilled work for the unexpected - a moment that transcends the tight control of technique.  In that instant, which I bring on by repetition or distraction, I make some line or movement in the form that reveals the nature of my hands and tools guiding and being guided by the clay.  This effect is not strictly attributable to good craftsmanship but neither does it reflect struggle with the medium. In a moment that I can't quite ever remember something shifts; my mind is not in control and doesn't really need to be.  This process is not about finding an ecstatic state; it is about making a pot, moving on to the next, and watching what develops.  Recognizing when this moment happens and capturing the effect in the finished pot is my challenge.
 The vessels I make are reflections and interpretations of the vessels I love.  The pots are about function but they are about going beyond function too. They are about trying to make something bright and exciting as well as modest and thoughtful.  I like making pots that are story both literally and figuratively.


Growing up in northern Minnesota, Mark Zellers was always interested in the world around him and the things in it. Exploring the world of objects and how they work as a habit that he has never grown out of. After several years of working jobs and shoveling snow he attended the University of Wisconsin-Superior where he learned to make and understand ceramic work. Mark ‘got the call’ there for making art, learning about art and watching how faculty teach art in the academic environment. While learning about clay and art there he sought out artists in the region, visiting many, and learning about opinions and values and aesthetics within an art community he had never known was in his own back yard. Many influences had common threads: hard work, self-sufficiency, making good things well, humility and risk. Knowing that ultimately he wanted to make art and teach it, he earned an MFA in Artisanry-Ceramics from the University of Massachussetts-Dartmouth. Immediately after finishing the degree he began teaching at the Community College of Rhode Island and continues to share the clay process. He shows work regionally and nationally and occasionally curates ceramics exhibitions. Mark currently lives and makes work in Pascoag, Rhode Island with his wife and a very good dog.