Joan Bontempo

Ceramic Artist

Joan Bontempo has been a ceramic artist for 45 years creating both traditional functional works and expressive abstract, sculpture in clay and mixed media. The ceramic methods she uses are figures, wall pieces and vessels in high fire stoneware and low-temperature Raku firing, and may have bits of glass, copper, or gold enhancements. Her work has been shown in galleries, museums and universities regionally and national invitations since 1977.

Joan received her MFA in ceramics from Wayne State University, Detroit MI following her BFA from the University of Notre Dame, Notre Dame IN. Presently she lives in Knoxville TN.

Her work in clay has developed from traditional forms and methods to experimental techniques, with clay combined with other materials or found objects, and including altered canvases or metal. More recently she has explored abstract figurative work expressing personal psychology and spiritual musings. The work exhibited in this exhibit addresses archetypes, defenders and prophets - spirits that are timeless and in ancient mythologies. Putting clay-wrapped foam figure into the kiln, the foam figure burns away, leaving just form and movement—a kind of anti-figure figure formed with clay, slips, lace and canvas, glazed hard with metallic embellishments.

This aesthetic is also shown in works from an ongoing series of large textured circular wall pieces that incorporate erratic edges and rich surfaces, which are a compliment to the figures in simpler form.