ARTIST OF THE MONTH - April 2001
Joanne Savoie - An Eclectic Potter
by Carol N. Wells
Savoies pottery captured my attention because of the unusual organic
textures, colors and nontraditional shapes. Her work is a delicious combination
of sculpture and rich glazes.
Born in Montreal, Joanne moved with her family to New York State during
junior high school. It was in seventh grade that her art teacher made
a great impression on her and mentored her in working with clay.
she claims her head was really turned when, as a sophomore in high school,
she visited the southwest art museums in Durango and Colorado Springs.
It was her first encounter with Native American pottery. When she returned
to school she would stay after to spend time in the art room and make
handbuilt pottery pieces, mainly containers. This was her incubation period
during which she searched for different forms and designs, however, Joanne
was limited by the low-fire techniques available to her.
I asked Joanne what it was that made her choose clay as a medium over
any other. It was the feel of working the clay in my hands that
felt like I could communicate through it. Joannes pottery
does more than just communicate. There is an elegance to the pieces, and
an intangible magnetism that draws you in for a tactile and visual union
with each piece.
When Joanne graduated from high school, she moved to Vail, CO to participate
in the Colorado Mountain College summer art workshops. This particular
college provided an extensive ceramic program where established artists
from around the country came to teach classes. Joanne did work study to
afford the classes for two summers. During her time there, she met staff
from the University of Colorado at Boulder and decided to attend college
there and major in studio art with a minor in art history.
worked her way through college in the art history department as an assistant
librarian for the slide library for three years. There, she made slides
and was an official slide pusher.
Whats a slide pusher, exactly? I asked Joanne.
Its the person that pushes the slides through the projector while
the professor is giving the lecture, she explained.
Joanne jokes about her first introduction to Moab while driving through
on her way to California, I drank from Matrimony Springs,
this time, Joanne was spending her summers in Moab as a river guide and
waitressing, and she left college just short of a degree due to finances
and a growing crime rate; and felt she had a greater support group in
Moab. Joanne had developed tendonitis from throwing pots and decided she
couldnt totally support herself as a ceramicist. When she broke
away from college, her art took a back seat. She worked as a ski instructor
during the winter months, in Vail, and lived in Moab during the summer.
Joanne finally moved to Moab the same year that the Utah State University
opened its extension program in Moab, where Joanne completed her degree
and earned her teaching certificate.
After moving to Arizona for two years with her husband, they moved back
to Moab because Joanne had gotten a teaching position here. When her son
started Kindergarten, Joanne was part-time and was at last able to get
back into her ceramics.
after the Moab Arts & Rec Center started, Joanne helped put together
the ceramics program for the MARC. Joanne still produces wheel thrown
pottery but believes the wheel is only a tool to an end and she still
searches for a way to use the wheel away from throwing the perfect
pot. Her insights to her sculptural work began in college as she experimented
with organic shapes.
Through her keen awareness of the medium, Joanne gives us some insights
to being an artisan in clay, Even though clay is organic, once fired,
it becomes permanent. Im inspired by the natural, physical world,
rivers and rocks. Im fascinated by the permanence of rocks, yet
the action, the forces of nature are always there. The sensuality of river
rocks is what inspires me. Clay comes from this natural form of erosion
of rocks. I began experimenting with using rocks as forms for colors,
shapes and textures to inform my own work. Integrating telltale signs
of the action of water on land is how I communicate movement in something
thats fixed. Handbuilt is the challenge and the joy to manifest
those ideas into being.
says she still loves to throw pots, but for her, it can get boring and
tedious, In nature, repetitious patterns only last for so long before
the entropy of nature breaks it down and a new pattern is revealed. When
Im throwing pots, my own entropy interferes and I have to break
it down and do something different. Its like ripples in water or
in sandstone, the pattern only goes one way for so long before it does
something else. A lot of people enjoy the Zen practice of throwing pot
after pot with changes in nuances. I find that kind of work easier as
a request from someone else, like someone needing a set of dishes. But
for my own personal work, I find that being true to my nature is making
one of a kind pieces that come from time spent with myself.
Joannes personal quest as an artist is lifelong, If youve
found the answer your art has probably died, or youve died,
she says, as we both laugh over the truth in her statement.
asked Joanne what fills her well, what keeps her going? I love to
teach! Children, adults; I learn so much from the people I teach that
I can keep going with my art. It can be a double edged sword, in that
it also takes time away from doing art. I feel good about getting paid
for time spent with people, more so I think, than making money from my
pottery. Besides, its hard to part with the pieces you really like.
And at the show I had at Cave Dreamers Gift Gallery, the fact that I sold
pieces to people I knew, was more important than the price tag.
Joanne Savoies pottery makes you want to touch it and have it around
you, for it is an ingenious reflection of nature frozen in time.
Joannes work is available at Cave Dreamers Gift Gallery, and
she continues to teach ceramics classes through the Moab Arts & Rec
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