Janis Wilson Hughes
Janis Hughes functional tableware is rooted in her long-standing interest in bottle forms. Her pieces vary from decanters and flasks to hold the spirits that sooth everyday life, olive oil bottles to enhance the cooking experience and bring nourishment, and decorative bottle sets that brighten personal spaces and pose the silent question of what might be inside.
No Longer Available
Janis Wilson Hughes at MudFire
Gallery group show Damn Right I Got the Blues, June 2011
Janis Wilson Hughes Artist Bio
I began working with clay after becoming a chemical engineer although I was drawn to it since I was a kid. After putting a practical career first, I was left unfulfilled. Then a long conversation with a friend from the office about our dreams of leading more creative lives led me to sign up for the ceramics class I was always talking about. I began studying under Rick McKinney at Fired Earth Pottery in Appleton, Wisconsin that winter many years ago. I was immediately hooked. Soon I began acquiring studio equipment like a wheel and a small kiln. When I moved to the Atlanta area in 2004, part of my criteria for choosing a home was finding one with the right kind of space in which to build my own studio. After the move, my husband and I undertook the labor of love of building the Evolution Stoneware Pottery studio.
In 2007, I began seriously producing functional pottery and selling through galleries. It was difficult to balance an engineering job with studio time, but it was also exhilarating to be featured in art galleries and exhibitions.
In 2009, I took the great leap and left engineering to focus fully on working with clay. I completed a yearlong studio assistantship at the Hudgens Center for the Arts in Duluth, Georgia where I now teach, and I loosed my inner muse in my own studio. I'm currently a full time studio potter and instructor in the northern Atlanta area. I find that my former studies come in handy quite often with glaze formulation and designing around obstacles; yet unlike the time I used to spend in the office or lab, the time I spend in the studio energizes me and charges my creative batteries. Opening each kiln load to see the results of my work brings excitement and anticipation. I know that despite my indirect path I am finally doing what I am meant to do. My experience shapes my art, and as Tolkien said, "Not all who wander are lost."
Janis Wilson Hughes Artist Statement
One enduring principle I've embraced from my past as a chemical engineer is an appreciation for elegant design. Here's what I mean by elegant: pleasingly and often ingeniously neat, simple, or concise. Yes, my work needs to look good, but it needs to work well too. Whether it's how a sculpture hangs on the wall or how the handle of a mug feels when you're drinking from it, I want it to simply work. I want the function to be seamless with the aesthetics of the design. I inherently look for elegant design solutions to make my functional work feel natural and effortless during use while looking irresistibly inviting.
My current focus centers around a handful of forms. The first aspect is rooted in my long standing interest in bottle forms. These pieces vary from decanters and flasks that hold the spirits that sooth everyday life, olive oil bottles to enhance the cooking experience and bring nourishment, and decorative bottle sets that brighten personal spaces and pose the silent question of what might be inside. The second aspect of my focus is purely decorative and sculptural despite being derived from a functional form. My pod forms begin as bowls and are transformed to wall hanging pieces with organic references. My initial interest in the form grew out of childhood memories of stumbling through an overgrown meadow to discover a stand of milkweed bushes laden with rough pods bursting with feathery seeds, and it has evolved to include associations with delicate, pale shells formed deep in clear, Polynesian waters and used by ancient cultures for adornment. These pod sculptures which are equally interesting as solitary pieces or in groups are meant to bring allusions to Mother Nature into the spaces they adorn. Finally, the newest aspect is in the form of my voluptuous, undulating Dali pots. These puffy mugs, cups, and jars look as if they have an undulating belt line wrapped around them several times like a garland on a tree causing bulges to spill over in relaxed folds. The form invites you to experience the volume of the pot through the outer surface instead of simply seeing the outer wall. I mean for these well nourished forms to cultivate feelings of comfort and to nurture the soul.