Michelle Tobia

Artist Statement

Our thoughts, feelings and experiences of our natural and built surroundings intrigue me. What are our individual sensitivities and what do we share in common? What changes over time and how are we affected? How does this contribute to the transformation of an ordinary space to a valued place? I believe it is important to take the time to become aware of these things… to honor our selves.

The scale of my work right now is intimate. As a mother raising my young daughter, most recent inspirations draw upon the histories of paper quilling and picture frame design. Rococo architecture & music, ironwork and aspects of nature relating to growth and emergence further inform my interpretations of windows, tiles and bricks that investigate ideas of privacy, protection and escape.

Repetition & geometry, inherent to architecture, are the foundation of my work. Despite my intentional repetition of forms, pieces are individually hand-shaped, creating a tension between what you might expect and what you actually see. What begins as predictable forms and patterns can subtly change through the ceramic process and how the piece is displayed, allowing for refreshing images and structures.

How the act of perceiving quietly engages our body and the concept of containment have always been an interest of mine. I seek to evoke a greater sense of place, allowing room for each person to enter and relate on a level where objects, experiences, daydreams and memories run parallel and intersect.

-- Michelle Tobia


Michelle Tobia was born in Athens, GA and raised in Doylestown, PA. She earned her BS in Human Development and Family Studies and Early Childhood Education (1996) from the Pennsylvania State University, her BFA in Ceramics (2001) from The Kansas City Art Institute, and her MFA in Ceramics (2004) from Ohio University. In 2004-5, she was a resident artist at the Clay Art Center in New York and in 2006, a Visiting Lecturer in Ceramics at the University of Wisconsin Madison. In 2006 she accepted an Assistant Professor of Art position at the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh and taught Ceramics and 3D Design until 2010. In 2008 and again in 2010, she spent some time making work at the International Ceramics Studio in Kecskemet, Hungary. Michelle has exhibited her work nationally. After the birth of her daughter in 2012, she took some time off but is now back in the studio continuing her research and practice. She lives and works in North Wales, PA.

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