The Upstate New York Ceramics Invitational at Main Street Arts will feature functional and sculptural ceramic work by 13 artists from the region. This invitational represents some of the most exciting contemporary ceramic work being made in upstate New York.

The exhibition will be held July 11–August 29, 2015.
Online purchasing will begin in mid-July.

Joanna Poag

Rochester ceramic artist Joanna Poag
Joanna Poag

Q: Where are you from originally and where are you now?
A: I spent most of my life in the Rochester, NY area (moving from Washington, D.C. when I was seven) and I’m still here!

Q: When did you realize you wanted to be a ceramic artist?
A: I had been introduced to ceramics in middle school, but it wasn’t until college that I really became interested in clay. Even then, I wasn’t sold on making it my career path until my final year in school when I had to make a body of work for the senior exhibition. The year of focused making both conceptually and technically was so exhilarating and engaging, that I knew I wanted to have my hands in clay from then on.

Q: Did you make other types of artwork before finding ceramics? Do you currently make other work?
A: Before ceramics, I photographed and painted. Since finding clay, although I enjoy momentary explorations in other mediums, I haven’t seriously pursued any form of art-making outside of ceramics.

Q: Do you have an artistic hero or an artist you look up to?
A: Ruth Asawa! She never stopped making and exploring a variety of forms while living a balanced, full life with her family.

Q: What is your largest source of inspiration?
A: I am always on the search for structural patterns in the natural world. I’m interested in how systems function healthily (homeostasis), so I explore everything from musical patterns to movement patterns of animals to growth structures of plants to string theory.

Q: Do you look forward to opening the kiln? Or do you wince at the thought of something going wrong in there?
A: Opening the kiln TERRIFIES me. Every. Single. Time. I always start by cracking it a smidge, and if I don’t see anything troublesome then, I open it a little further and a little further, until finally I’ve opened it the whole way and can assess the damage. I think I get worked up because I can’t physically see what I’m trying to manage from the outside of the kiln. I guess I have control issues.

Q: What is it like being a ceramic artist in Upstate NY?
A: So far, it’s been wonderful. The community has been so supportive and I’ve been able to find plenty of opportunities to continue my artistic growth.

Q: Where else are you showing your work this summer or fall?
A: Right now the plan is to take some time and work out some exploratory forms that I haven’t quite perfected. No shows planned for the summer and fall as of yet, but stay tuned.

Q: Is there anything strange or unique that people might not know about you?
A: I have a serious addiction to salsa and tortilla chips. Bring on the salt!

Sculpture by Joanna Poag
Sculpture by Joanna Poag
Equilibrium Series by Joanna Poag
Equilibrium Series by Joanna Poag
Equilibrium Series by Joanna Poag
Equilibrium Series by Joanna Poag
Equilibrium Series by Joanna Poag
Equilibrium Series by Joanna Poag
Progression by Joanna Poag
Progression by Joanna Poag

Where can people see more of your work/follow you?
Website: www.joannapoag.com
Instagram: @joannapoag

Check out the previous Q & A with ceramic artist Peter Pincus.

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