Maxwell Henderson ( he/him )

Artist Statement

My work’s an exploration of my “qualia”—those intensely personal experiences, emotions, and perceptions that shape my humanity and what I notice and value in life. In a culture where binaries eclipse nuance, the liminality of my existence is subtly marginalized and dismissed. My biracial identity feels diasporic, further intensified by my experience with childhood poverty. Perpetually asking “Who am I?”, I first felt conviction in my self-worth when I first touched clay at fifteen. Making pots taught me that I possessed the skills to create beautiful objects I wasn’t afforded to and the power to overcome the constraints of my circumstances. I share a kinship with clay. While it’s frequently overlooked — literally stepped on — I view it with deep reverence.

While my vessels are an homage to pottery’s transformative role in my life, I challenge conventional utility, instead prioritizing formal qualities that resonate with what I notice:  contrasts of form/texture, static/fluid, muted/vibrant. It’s a manifestation of my search for liminality within dichotomies. These vessels are not just containers, but they speak to the human condition, celebrating the complexities that weave together our shared experiences. The rich, deep colors and the pronounced three-dimensionality of each droplet-like application on the surface articulate a story of robustness, vitality, and materiality. They stand as a testament to the physicality of our world, inviting a tactile exploration and reminding us of the weight and substance of our own existence.

My ceramic tiles are inspired by the natural elegance of Iceland’s volcanic rivers and the distinguished glazing techniques of Kutani potter Tokuda Yasokichi IV. These inspirations are captured in the tiles' veil-like quality—glazes that interact with light to reveal or obscure, echoing the dynamic interplay of visibility and mystique found in nature. Each veil, with its subtle gradations, cracks, and fluid energy, mirrors the rivers' seamless melding of colors, offering a sense of depth and layered beauty. In them, the concept of the veil is realized, inviting the observer to a nuanced visual exploration—where the surface tells a story that only unfolds upon closer engagement.

Through my aesthetic influences, ceramic’s inevitable unpredictability, and qualia that influence what I notice, I aim to transcend the limitations of my intentions to make objects that embody the nuances of our humanity and my place in it.


Maxwell Henderson (he/him) was born in Arizona in 1996. He is a nationally recognized artist who received his MFA from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Maxwell also studied at Arizona State University where he earned his BFA, and additionally studied at Penn State as a special student. Maxwell has participated in residencies at the Archie Bray Foundation, La Serra Collective in Denver, and is currently a long-term resident at Red Lodge Clay Center in Montana.