Tom Bartel

Artist Statement

The figure has been a potent symbol and charged subject since antiquity, and continues to be an appropriate vehicle to ask some of life’s most challenging questions. I believe creating images of or depictions about ourselves can be attributed to a primal need to ensure we survive or to simply tell important stories about what it means to be human.

My work takes cues from a "shotgun blast" of influences ranging from antiquity to popular culture and is constructed to refer to both the body and also charged, stylized, surrogates for the body such as dolls, toys, and figurines. The questions that arise from this cultural mishmash fuel my creative practice.

Furthermore, I use the human condition as a point of departure where themes related to gender, rites of passage, fertility and mortality are constant “threads” within my creative practice.

I am intrigued by how appearance is capable of summing up identity yet it is only a façade; the concepts of mask, disguise, and transformation are fundamental to my concerns.

-- Tom Bartel


Tom Bartel maintains a private studio in Athens OH and is currently an Associate Professor and Ceramics Chairperson at Ohio University in Athens, OH. He has lectured, conducted workshops, presented lectures and exhibited extensively throughout the United States and internationally. His work is included in numerous public and private collections and he has received Individual Artist Fellowships from the Pennsylvania arts council, the Kentucky Arts Council and the Ohio Arts Council. He has numerous publications to his credit, including American Craft, Ceramics Monthly, Clay Times, Ceramics Art and Perception as well as many other periodicals and books.