Jonathan Steele- Studio Assistant, Summer 2013

Jonathan Steele
Jonathan Steele
Jonathan Steele
Jonathan Steele

Artists Website

I grew up in the greater Seattle Area. I took my first ceramics class in 2008 as an elective at Whitworth University where I earned a BA in Physics. After graduating, I knew I wanted to dive into ceramics and I took the roundabout path of going back to community college to earn my acceptance into a Post-Bacc program in Art at University of Puget Sound. I earned my MFA in Craft from Oregon College of Art and Craft in 2016. I was a  Resident Artist at Pleasant Hill Pottery in Pleasant Hill, OR. I have accepted an offer for spring 2018 to be Sabbatical Replacement Professor for Chad Gunderson at University of Puget Sound and I look forward to the opportunities that will unfold for me from there.

Artist Statement
To understand clay, it may first be necessary to understand rock, water, salt, fire... To understand life, it may first be necessary to understand joy, fear, love, gratitude…

My ceramic works are my engagement with material as I find beauty in observing and placing my hands in the phenomena of the earth. My muddy footprint in the riverbank is as much my work as the teapot I make from the clay I find there. Stacks of firewood become sculpture when handled with careful attention—they become heat and glaze when thrown into the kiln. My work creates sensitivity to a material dynamic that is ever-present in the world. To that end, I create visual evidence through sculpture and I display movement and material cohesions in my pots. It is my intent to draw my audience’ attention to what is constant around and within them. In my work, as in the world, there is no encryption to be interpreted, only free phenomena to be taken in with an openness toward discovering meaning.  

It is as obvious as it is subtle, that when condensation forms on the windshield as you get into the cold car it means you are made of water. As you drink from a cup made from mud and stone, it means you are made of the earth. The cup doesn’t have to be remarkable—the cup is the remark.

The purpose of art is to provoke understanding.

Experience at Rat City Studios
I began my involvement with Rat City Studios in 2014. I was living in Seattle the summer before starting my MFA and Deb invited me to trade studio space in exchange for helping out with the studio building efforts that were taking place that summer. I helped to build a fence, framed the studio door, and sprung the arch on the pizza oven. I consider Rat City Studios to be one of my first great inspirations as I’ve envisioned making a career as a ceramic artist and setting up a studio for myself in the future. 

Deborah Schwartzkopf

Rat City Studios is the workspace of Deborah Schwartzkopf, Seattle based studio potter and instructor. Her mission is to engage and build community through clay – one person, one neighborhood, and one experience at a time. In service to this pursuit, she offers studio assistant positions for emerging artists, connects people through social events, instructs classes and workshops, and maintains a lively career in the ceramic arts!