Over his decades-long career, celebrated ceramicist John Gill (b. 1949; Renton, WA) has made endless innovations in his medium to deliver joyous variations on the vessel form. With technical mastery, the artist embraces chance in his practice, allowing a well-honed intuition to guide his process. To build his creations, the artist joins slabs of clay to create towering vessels with swatches of bright colors that alternate like patchwork. Gill focuses his works on three main forms: vases, house pots, and jug-shaped ewers.
During his undergraduate studies at Kansas City Art Institute, Gill became enamored with the history of pottery, especially that of ancient China and Persia. Mastering the technical aspects of these traditions, he began to develop his signature style, incorporating the forms of both urban and natural landscapes, such as the shapes of pitched roofs, soaring smokestacks, and boulders lining a mighty river. Gill brings a painterly touch to his ceramic renderings of these forms, citing painters Stuart Davis, Arthur Dove, and Giorgio Morandi as major influences, and referring to his own works as "endless paintings."
The prismatic planes, dynamic spouts, and swelling curves of Gill's vessels tend toward absurdity. There is tension between the stability of the interior space-necessary for the functionality of the vessels-and the external instability of the many material variables at play in his practice. Gill deliberately fires all of his creations at a single temperature, allowing each glaze to undergo a unique chemical transformation. The result is a vessel that buzzes with a joyous variety of color and texture.
Gill's work has been widely exhibited in the United States and abroad, including at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, NY; Denver Art Museum, Denver, CO; Pottery Workshop, Shanghai, China; and Kraushaar Gallery, New York, NY. The artist's work is held in the collections of the Victoria and Albert Museum, London, UK; Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, NY; Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Los Angeles, CA; Brooklyn Museum, Brooklyn, NY; Rhode Island School of Design Museum, Providence, RI; and Newark Museum, NJ, among others. In 2008, Gill was inducted into the International Academy of Ceramics in Geneva and was elected a Fellow at the American Crafts Council in 2014. In 2018, he received the James Renwick Alliance Distinguished Craft Educator Award. The artist lives and works in Alfred, NY.