How long have you been part of Commonwheel?
I have been a member of Commonwheel for just over a year.
What does making art mean to you?
Making art is a way to take the creative ideas that are inside my head and give them physical form. There is great satisfaction in using a simple ubiquitous material—clay—to create something useful, sculptural or thought provoking.
What are you currently working on?
I recently built a soda kiln and this type of firing process is my current obsession. I have fired my kiln 10 times and I feel I am just starting to scratch the surface on getting my work to a place where I can expect some reliably, consistent results. This is all part of the intrigue and excitement of starting a new process.
Tell us about your process. Walk us through the steps of your flowing creativity to achieve one of your works.
In a soda kiln, you spray a mixture of soda ash (sodium carbonate) dissolved in hot water into the kiln at high temperature (2300). This is carried through the kiln and onto the surface of the clay pieces reacting to the silica and alumina in the clay body creating a glazed surface and reacting with other surface decorations.
What emotions/reactions/thoughts do you want to cause/explore/achieve on the public looking at your artwork?
When people look at my work, I hope they try to discover the nuances of the making process and the surface decorations that are transformed through the soda firing that is both science and magic. Perhaps they will pick up a piece to see that the foot has been cut in a subtle but particular way or that a carved line has picked up the soda from the kiln to cause a slight variation in color and see that the small blue dot of glaze has even smaller crystal formations within.
What is your favorite piece recent work? And why?
This little piece is one of my favorites. It was from my very first firing of the soda kiln. It captures the movement of the flame and bleaching action of the soda and erases some of the surface slip letting you know that something was once there while revealing what it could have been through what you can see.
Anything else you’d like to tell us about yourself?
I live in La Veta, Colorado with my sweet husband and two cats and have a compact bright ceramics studio. For a decade we owned and operating an art gallery in La Veta. The gallery continues to this day celebrating many local and regional artists.
I have been an adjunct art instructor since 2006 at Colorado State University in Pueblo and have instructed ceramics students from beginners to graduate students. I also teache kid’s classes, workshops and private lessons.
One of my most rewarding experiences has been that for three consecutive years I traveled with a team of ceramic artists to Port-au-Prince, Haiti to teach pottery making skills to employees of an art-based, socially conscious business called Papillion Enterpises. These women have become extremely skilled potters and sell their work to support their families.
Where can we find your work: website, social media, local stores.
Gallery 113, Colorado Springs, Colorado
La Veta Gallery on Main, La Veta, Colorado
and of course, Commonwheel!
Originally from St. Louis, m. jo hart moved to Colorado in 2015 after receiving her MFA in Ceramics from Illinois State University. She has a B.A. in Visual Communications and has worked as an Art Director/Graphic Designer in the corporate sector, non-profit, and public/private design industries with over 35+ years experience. Hart considers herself both an artist and maker. She creates highly decorative functional pottery along with sculptural work that primarily focuses on female issues.
During her time as a designer she sought out ways to create for herself and was reacquainted with clay, remembering the fun she had in the clay studio as an undergrad. For years she attended classes at a local pottery studio and began selling her work. Later in her life an opportunity to apply to graduate school presented itself and she fully immersed herself in a 3-year program where she discovered a passion for working with the figure in clay, primarily on female issues. Attending graduate school as an older student, Hart was confronted with many hurdles and presented with countless opportunities for evolving as an artist.
Today, Hart works as an artist/maker, leaving the corporate world in the dust and no longer having to be contained in a cubicle. Recently she began collaborating with her partner, combining his woodworking craft and her porcelain art. Hart teaches workshops in clay and other mediums and finds the creative process at times more satisfying than the outcome. As a self-supporting artist her piggy bank is often not as full as it was but she wouldn’t trade this life for anything.
Hart can be contacted at email@example.com