Master Potter Eric Jensen to Visit CSC

Master Potter Eric Jensen to Visit CSC


Guided by a simple philosophy, Chicago potter Eric Jensen has successfully practiced his art over the course of a lifetime.  “I try to make something simple that conveys what I care about,” he explains.  One of the original studio members of Chicago’s Lillstreet (when it really was on Lill Street), Jensen creates functional pieces in his North Center studio, which he shares with painter Ed Hinkley.  At Ceramic Supply Chicago’s December Saturday demonstration, Jensen will share his thinking about the creative process and the more practical aspects of making a career as an artist.


After earning his MFA in 1973, Jensen spent over a
decade balancing his creative life with teaching.  “I didn’t want to teach,” he says.  “I wanted to work.  He describes an early struggle of “fishing around” for what he likes, a period of making and experimenting.  “You have to want to do it,” he says.


He eventually committed to full-time pottery making, a decision, he quips, that “was made easier by my gainfully employed wife.”  Even so, Jensen took serious consideration of how to go about marketing his art.  He focused on wholesale fairs, rather than art fairs, securing contracts with mostly small-scale retailers and selling in quantity.  Over time, he developed a network of sellers whom he describes as “a family of people I can work with, who share a similar appreciation and notion of art.”  He also is represented by Northern Clay Center in St. Paul.


Jensen found that it was important to reconcile what he wanted to make with what he is able to sell.  “You don’t want it to be formulaic,” he says.  “You have to find some work that you really want to make.  Quality is important.”


Jensen’s pieces are primarily porcelain slab constructions, reduction fired at cone 9 or 10.  There is a simplicity to the pieces, that often have irregular forms.  Jensen cites writer Wallace Stegner as a muse, whose novels, stories, essays, and poetry are rooted in man’s relationship to his environment. “He speaks to me in a simple, common language,” says Jensen.  “In just a few words, Stegner conveys to me what I care about.  This is my goal – to convey what I care about through a simple cup, plate, or vessel.”  Jensen’s work evokes this association with natural forms and forces.


Jensen’s visit to Ceramic Supply Chicago will be unstructured, giving participants the special opportunity to talk freely with him and ask questions.  He plans to make some things as he visits and hopes the crowd will drive the content.  In the past, Jensen has presented workshops entitled “A Bowl, A Cylinder, A Box”– simplifying his work to such elemental forms.  As his muse Stegner creates through simple words, Jensen aims to connect and convey through the humble manipulation of clay.


“Creation is a knack which is empowered by practice, and like almost any skill, it is lost if you don't practice it.”  - Wallace Stegner


Take a break from your holiday frenzy and stop by CSC on Saturday, December 24, between 10:30 and 2:30.  Don’t miss this chance to talk with Eric Jensen.