Stacey Johnson - February Artist

We have been following Stacey Johnson's work for a while now and secretly oogling it!  We are so happy to have her people hanging on our walls.  They fit so perfectly on our walls and Stacey's spirit is infecting our family!  

If you didn’t make art, what would you be when you grow up? 

A goat cheese maker, or maybe a travel blogger.

How is sculpting like making biscuits?

Wedging clay is exactly like kneading dough for baking!  Also, the best art making comes from having a soft touch and knowing when to let the thing you're making rest...sort of like not over-working the dough. :\ 

Have you ever made a clay biscuit?

I think I make them every day...they turn into little forms and figures.  

If you were to make one of the Greenhouse biscuits out of clay, what biscuit would it be?

Jessie, that's a very existential question.

What is your favorite de-stress snack when you’re in the middle of a clay marathon? 

Stopping to eat is no fun in the midst of a clay marathon, so I stick with red wine, nori, and popcorn.  I like to be kidnapped and taken to a restaurant. (But who doesn't?)

Clearly we are interested in your snack habits. Anything else you’d like to add or expand on?

Clay studios are great spaces for potlucks!  Clay people love to eat and drink together.

You’re imagination is incredible… What is the relationship you have with your people that you make? 

I'm very, very attached to the art that I make.  Working in clay requires that the artist is involved on so many different levels of the art making process, and it's difficult not to be beholden to what you create. Every little step is very intimate: recycling and wedging the clay, forming the figures, the chemistry involved with glaze making and testing...and then the firings- it's more involved than any other medium.  I don't have the same connection to my paintings. Opening a kiln to see what's inside is just exhilarating.  No many how many times I've done it before, each time is a new experience, and I will drop everything to open a kiln early and see how my guys fared. And then when you couple all of this with the understanding that there are no guarantees...that work fails often in the kiln and breaks in transport..then there is the learning to deal with disappointment and destruction aspect.  Life lesson for sure.

Do you ever pretend you are one of the little clay people you make? Do you ever fall in love with any of their personalities? Do you ever start to dislike their personalities? 

 I make a lot of self portraits because it's a kind of therapy. I don't love all the work I make!  The world is saturated with enough bad art, and I try not to add to it.  I'm super critical of my own art, but I think every artist is.  Yes, sometimes I see little things in the pieces that I don't think anyone else will appreciate, and then I just hang onto them for a while and they are never shown.  My favorite work is at my home, where I can just enjoy it and not have to explain it.  

Also, tell us about your pets and the inspiration they provide for your work. 

I have a real live stuffed animal named Puff the Pomeranian, and a supporting crew of characters that always inspires/exasperates me. Deep love, awe, and respect for all creatures great and small. 


Quick background (experience, schooling mistakes, for the wins, etc.) on how you came to be.  

Well, I just grew up being an artist.  There was nothing else I ever considered as a career because making art was all consuming and something so intuitive there was no sense in breaking that pathway.  I have a BFA from Loyola and an MFA from Georgia...and along the way I've gotten to study with my heroes in the art world.  I have been very fortunate.  I love to teach and have done that in some pretty cool places.  I feel like there is a folder in my brain where travel and people experiences are filed away, and when I start making art, it all just pours out.  Every little thing that we see and touch and taste and smell has a purpose, and I guess my journey is to be storyteller for those things.  I never expected I'd end up back in Mississippi, but this is my home state.  There's a rich, cultural heritage here that is hard to describe to people not from the area. 

Also... Finally: How does being in that wonky building influence your work? 

It doesn't!  Working at the Ohr is about teaching and running a clay's difficult to create there because my head is tangled with typical work fires.   At the end of the day, I'm so glad to be home and in my own studio.