Dimensions: 25″ x 18″
Media: Wood Fired Wild Clay
Fair Market Value: $900
Minimum Bid Amount: $450
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Josh Copus was raised in a close-knit community of farmers and artisans in Floyd County, located in the Blue Ridge Mountains of southwestern Virginia. The local traditions of crafts and agriculture, blended with the new ideas and outlook of the alternative community to form the basis of Josh’s life philosophy and instill an appreciation for art and nature that strongly influences his current work in ceramics.
During his youth in Floyd, Josh was introduced to ceramics through an opportunity to work in Tom Phelps’ pottery studio. Tom is the father of one of Josh’s childhood friends, and he offered both boys a medium for expression in a setting that was creative and unrestrictive. Tom served as a mentor to Josh during his transformative adolescence and planted the seed that has grown into Josh’s love for clay.
Since moving to North Carolina in 1998, Josh has continued to study ceramics at a variety of schools and through countless hours of working with potters in the Asheville area and throughout the nation. During this time, Josh has developed a personally significant approach to making pottery that values the importance of local materials through his studies of folk potteries throughout the world, focusing specifically on the ceramics traditions of the Korea, Japan, England, and North Carolina. By combining his experiences in the academic classroom with more traditional pottery teaching models, Josh’s work references historical forms and processes while remaining relevant to the contemporary art world of our age.
Since graduating from UNCA in the spring of 2007, Josh has continued his involvement in the Clay Space Co-op, a cooperative studio that he founded in the River Arts District of Asheville during 2003. In addition to his work at the Clay Space, Josh has begun establishing his own pottery on his land in Marshall, NC. Using funds provided by the Windgate Fellowship, he designed and built a 27ft long woodfired climbing chamber kiln in the summer of 2007. Since then, Josh has added two more large wood-burning kilns and is currently working on the construction of a studio adjacent to the kiln site.
When he is not building and making things, Josh spends most of his time on his land growing crops, swimming in rivers, operating a shovel, and constantly searching for interesting materials to build and make things with.
Clay is a material accepting of impression. It is a record of every process, from its geological formation in the earth to its eventual transformation in the fire. My work with ceramics begins with the clay. By using local materials dug from the river bottoms and mountainsides of western North Carolina, my work gains a connection to place and establishes the materials as a valuable source of influence. I dig my own clay from a tobacco field alongside Turkey Creek and everything I make contains an element of my response to that experience. Every pot is infused with the qualities and character of my clay; whether it is the subtlety of its dark iron body breaking through a white slip or the drama of its diverse particle size exposed through a facet, the qualities of my clay effect what I make and my intention is bring out the inherit beauty of the materials in every pot.
However, my interest in using local materials is not limited to the influence of their physical properties and extends to the intangible qualities that these materials can bring to the work. The physical properties of my materials are not as unique as my experience of using them and it is the increased participation in the creative process that I have come to value most. Digging my own clay has increased my connection to the area where I live and furthered my relationship with the surrounding community, creating an authentic context for my work to exist in. Most importantly I find a great amount of excitement in digging my own clay and my hope is that the enthusiasm I have for my materials is transferred to the finished product. I want each pot to carry with it the feeling I get each time I visit the Turkey Creek tobacco field.
The experience of working with local materials has contributed greatly to my growth as both an artist and a person. It has confirmed my belief that the more highly developed a potter is as a human being, the better their pottery will be. There is no real beauty without character and like the clay that I use to make them, my pots are reflections of my character. As a human being, I am accepting of impression and each pot I make represents my personality, experiences, and my dreams.