One of the pleasures of being Chief Editor of CFile is that I can take the plum assignments, writing about Ai Weiwei, Daisy Youngblood, Theaster Gates, Simone Leigh, Richard Tuttle, Edmund de Waal, Grayson Perry, Ken Price, Mariana Castillo Deball, Anna Maria Maiolino and Francesca DiMattio, and being allowed to explore big exciting projects at the top of the art tree. But that tree has many branches. One is for graduates in the summer migration moving from school to the real world. The shock of the real!
This time the focus is on the youthful Jordan Pieper, an undergraduate who has just received his BFA from Oregon College of Art and Craft. We don’t normally feature ceramics at this educational level but he is an exception.
Baroque influences his current ceramics and he handles this florid, fecund, 17th and 18th century style very well, producing forms that are distinctive and fresh with just the right edge of flash and decadence. His complex forms have a feeling of a balloon caught between rising and falling. This partnership of simultaneously slumping and rising is also evident in his earlier functional wares in celadon. All are very impressive.
I came across his work on Facebook and was amazed by his precociousness, his excellent website and professionalism. Right now he is better equipped to enter the market than many ceramists ten years older. I was curious about the journey that brought him to such a strong stance so early. And so we began a dialogue.
GC: Tell me something about your path and how you got to such an impressive place given your modest years and pre-grad-school education?
JP: I’m 21 years old and just finished my undergraduate degree at Oregon College of Art and Craft. Before that I went to high school in Denver, CO where I was fortunate to have a teacher, Lisa Rogers, who was extremely dedicated to her teaching practice. I ended up taking 4 years of ceramics classes before attending OCAC.
GC: What was the most important thing that you learned from her?
JP: She was most concerned with teaching her students what constitutes good form. I understand now that having that as the root of my ceramics education was crucial in getting me to where I am now.
GC: You appear to have a handle on the professional demands of being a maker. How did that arrive?
JP: During the summer months of my undergraduate career I went back to Denver to work for Jonathan Kaplan and Dorothy Bensusan at Plinth Gallery where I focused on honing mold making and professional practice skills. I learned a lot about what it takes to run a gallery and that experience was crucial in understanding how to present myself moving forward with my practice.
GC: And Now?
JP: This next year will be spent at the Ash Street Project in Portland, OR. It’s a residency program run by my past professor, Thomas Orr and his wife Joanna Bloom. I don’t feel ready for graduate school just yet. My intention is to take 3-5 (or more) years off in between undergrad and grad school to learn more about myself through traveling and making work. I have a lot more exploring to do within this new body of work.
GC: There is a risk in coming out with such good work at such a young age. Igor Stravinsky said that young creatives need a period of protective neglect so they can mature without being in a spotlight and having to meet expectations. Early success can blunt creativity. I have seen it happen often, graduates who end up redoing their graduation exhibition for a decade. Yet you still need to support yourself. It can be rough to become an “it” artist too young. How do feel about this and how you think you can achieve a balance?
JP: I’ve been told by many to take it slow and focus on making work. I’m planning to take this next year to continue experimentation and make work without any obligations.
Garth Clark is the Chief Editor of CFile.
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