|Interview with Ceramic Artist Jonathan Mess|
|Editor: Brenda Bonneville|
|Sunday, 27 February 2011|
(Image: "Map Tile No.1" by Jonathan Mess)
A native of Columbus, Ohio, Jonathan Mess studied art at the University of Toledo and received a BFA in studio art at the University of Montana and later received an MFA at the State University of New York at New Paltz.
Jonathan states: “I am interested in the physicality and reality of land, the evidence of time and age in the layers of earth, in contrast with contemporary human relationships with land through usage, manipulation, ownership, and division. I am concerned with our responsibility as humans living with the land—collectively and individually.”
In 2004, Mess was commissioned to create a major installation at the Bates Mill Complex for the Governor’s Conference on Maine’s Creative Economy. Jonathan’s artwork is featured regularly at Highwater Gallery in New Orleans and Two Point Gallery in Portland, Maine. In addition, his work has been showcased in various venues including Aarhus Gallery in Belfast, Maine, Fertile Ground at Santa Fe Clay for NCECA’s Critical Santa Fe Symposium, Rooted In Place at The Kentucky Museum of Art & Craft and online at Santiago Gallery. Jonathan currently teaches art at Lincoln Academy in Newcastle.
When did you first realize that you were going to be an artist and when did you first start making art?
(Image: "Distance" by Jonathan Mess)
Before that, I was always creative; I made skim boards and snowboards in my basement at age 10. I even sold a couple. I loved to spray paint them wild colors using masking tape techniques that I thought I had invented.
I was a kid who struggled academically in high school, but ruled the ceramics side of the art room every day all four years, I even went to art summer school to get my GPA up in order to graduate. My teacher was not a 3D guy so let me just go for it. I picked up the wheel quickly and was making pretty large forms by my junior year. I learned to load kilns, experiment with color and temperature, and to set up, throw 3 pots and clean up in one hour. The next day was for trimming. I was making sales and getting requests from family and neighbors—I was selling work.
Who or what inspires you?
Is (was) anyone else in your family in the arts?
(Image: "Landfill No.12" by Jonathan Mess)
Are you self-trained or did you go to art school?
Is the process of creating your art long or short?
Tell us something about your work.
(Image: Bates Mill Installation)
Do you have a subject matter that defines you as an artist?
What makes you stay with a particular subject matter? Why are you drawn to it?
How do you stay motivated?
(Image: "Erosion Tile No.2" by Jonathan Mess)
What have you been working on lately? Are you experimenting with anything new?
Has your medium changed from when you first became an artist?
What advice would you give to an artist just starting out?
What kind of comment do you despise the most when overheard at one of your openings?
What kind of comment pleases you the most when overheard at one of your openings?
(Image: "Maine" From the States of Clay Series by Jonathan Mess)
How have you handled the business side of being an artist?
Do you have any outside interests other than art?
Are you disciplined about your creative process (in other words, do you treat the process like a job, where you keep particular hours in the studio), or are you more spontaneous?
How would your life change if you were no longer allowed to create art?
(Image: "Gothic" by Jonathan Mess)
What's the best part of being a full time, working artist?
What's the worst part of being a full time, working artist?
Do you have any upcoming shows?
- Brenda Bonneville, editor
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