Architecture and Ceramics
Before he worked in clay, Joel Brown was an architect. Following study at the Graduate School of Design at Harvard, he managed large scale civic infrastructure projects in New York City and Philadelphia. In addition to the design work, he developed the details that let contractors construct the buildings.
Joel credits workshops with Peter Callas, Joyce Michaud, and Steven Hill for his development in ceramics. His pieces are coil-built and wood-fired in kilns that are stoked around the clock for up to six days. He enjoys the team work that comes with these firings. His work has been juried into shows across the country, from New York to Florida to Washington. He has also curated shows that featured both ceramics and paintings.
"As an architect, I dealt with exterior elevations, interior plans, and the details that contractors use to build the project. I keep these considerations in mind now with clay.
My recent “structural” pieces start with a simple form like the rectangle of a quilt. Within that rectangle, swatches produce a complex texture, often embellished with embroidery. The surface cuts on my works embellish the basic shapes. They also catch the flame and ash of long firings with wood, adding another layer of decoration.
But just as buildings have interior rooms, my forms are hollow. A second look reveals texture, color, and complexity there, too. I’m inspired by antique skeleton watches, where the watchmaker put as much effort into the visual design of the interior mechanisms as into the engraved cases.
Concerning the influence of my first career, I’m used to my audience seeing fantastic buildings in my pieces, and I enjoy their reactions."