Ceramic artist Joanna Powell begins her pots with a reductive process, dismantling conventional ideas of functional objects. She’ll take a pot, like a mug, and strip it of everything unnecessary that our culture has projected onto it over centuries. Her goal is not optimal functionality or supreme ergonomics, but she aims to penetrate the essence of these familiar vessels.
“I enjoy the not knowing. A lot of times I will pretend not to know something so that I can think about it again in a new way.” – Joanna Powell
The idea of deconstructing conventions takes priority over the function itself. That’s not to say her work is dysfunctional, but a user may be challenged with her awkward handles or bulging decoration.
Powell takes her fresh outlook and begins to reconstruct the pottery with her own narrative. She rebuilds the design, with stringy handles or pinched surfaces, and reimagines decoration and color, ultimately creating a new perceived history for the ancient pottery archetypes.
Powell seeks to imbue everyday moments with a celebration of the imperfect, bringing soul, humor, and personality to our mass-produced, digital lives. Her work speaks of history, conventions, challenging the status quo, and embracing the imperfect. Powell’s art is a rejection of many of the issues of the social and political problems of today caused by our culture’s inability to reconsider old ideas, experiment with new ones, and objectively look at questions. Understanding her pots teaches us to reconsider our outlook on life, making us hyper-aware of conventions, facades, and essence.