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2008 Emerging Artists

Author: Jennifer Cushman
Issue: March, 2008, Page 145



After 20 years in ceramics, and having crafted close to 20,000 pieces,  Joseph Woodford recognizes that flaws have made his work fabulous.
“Ceramics is a journey of mistakes,” he remarks. “One has to master both the artistic creation of form and the technical alchemy of glazing and firing.

Lidded Vessel
Red Relic
the artistic creation of form and the technical alchemy of glazing and firing. It takes an incredible amount of patience and an even greater amount of commitment to be a potter.”
Sitting behind his potter’s wheel, the master ceramist often throws human-size vessels. For anyone who ever has dabbled in ceramics, the idea of taking a lump of clay and making a 6-foot-tall form is mind-boggling.

The artist’s surface-glazing skills likewise are notable. Deep, rich colors harmonize with metallic minerals, elevating humble clay to mythic beauty. Smoke, introduced during the final step in his raku wood-firing process, permeates his pieces and results in organic design that only chemistry can create.

In addition to life-size vessels, Woodford builds stand-alone totemic forms, abstract versions of Native American totem poles. He also assembles wall pieces made up of large tiles. These slabs are shaped in a mold for uniformity of size and thickness, then altered for design and fired many times. One piece, for example, can have as many as 20 glazes on it. The individual ceramic squares are then pieced together in a grid as a 6- x 7-foot wall mosaic.

 “Each time I do a piece, I am looking at the form and seeing the next piece that will evolve,” he comments. “My work is a journey. It’s a dance, a song that keeps on playing.”

Age: 41
Place of Residence: Chandler, Arizona
Education: Mesa Community College, Mesa Art Center
Gallery Representation: Brennan Gallery, Scottsdale; Brennan Gallery, Palm Desert, California; Brennan Gallery, Del Mar, California
Exhibitions and Honors of Note: Celebration of Fine Art, Scottsdale; Zimmer Museum, International Exhibition, Los Angeles, spring 2008; Home & Garden Television, Modern Masters, Episode 608, as a featured artist interview and studio tour; Beverly Hills Affaire in the Gardens, Beverly Hills, California, with Best of Show for 1999, First Place for 2005, Second Place for 2004 and 2006; Rancho Mirage Festival of the Arts, Rancho Mirage, California, Best in Show, 2003
Web site:
Quote: “The most important aspect of being an artist has been the evolution of the work created. The changes have been a direct result of me constantly looking for innovation in my art.”

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