Artist of the Week: Jessica Hans

Jessica Hans is an artist and designer based in Philadelphia, Pa. who specializes in ceramics and functional sculpture. She has exhibited nationally and internationally at venues such as Mr. Kitly in Brunswick, Australia, OMMU Distribution in Athens, Greece, IKO IKO Space in Los Angeles, and Walker Art Center in Minneapolis. She received her BFA in Ceramics and Fiber Arts from Maryland Institute College of Art in 2012.

Tell us a little bit about yourself and what you do. I’m an artist currently working in ceramics based out of Philadelphia, PA.

What are some recent, upcoming or current projects you are working on? I recently showed a new selection of my vase forms at Either Way LA in Echo Park, Los Angeles and participated in the Open Space Publications and Multiples Fair in Baltimore, MD. I will be showing some new work during NOHO Design Week in mid May and then will going up to Newcastle, Maine for a residency at Watershed Ceramics Center during the month of June.

What are you currently watching on Netflix/what’s on your Netflix queue? American Horror Story. It’s so trashy and bad but also very scary and suspenseful; I needed to prove to myself that I can watch a scary show by myself. When it’s too scary for me, I watch episodes of Attenborough’s Life of Mammals, Life of Birds, or Private Life of Plants. I’m also really into the aboriginal documentaries on the Film Board of Canada’s website.

What materials do you use in your work and what is your process like? I work predominately in ceramics these days. I used to spend a lot of my art making process working in photography and then textiles, specifically weaving, but have since migrated away from those and now work almost exclusively in clay. I’m drawn to clay for a lot of the same reasons that I was drawn to textiles, being that it’s possible to forage for the materials. For a while I was interested in digging up my own clays from various locations, and much of my sculpture work was made in response to that process and a lot of the surfaces that I used reflected the textures and colors I found at the clay sites. I still integrate photography into my process in terms of using a photograph to document the environment the I’m exploring in. Many of my photos were taken outside on hikes in the woods or the mountains; I like using these images as references for the surfaces of my pieces.

What artists or designers are you interested in right now? I’m a pretty big fan of Ken Price’s work…his earlier stuff like his cups from the late ‘60s and early ‘70s. I like his drawings a lot, too. Otherwise I really like looking at kid art. I love seeing the weird stuff that kids make. I teach kid’s workshops in clay every now and then and have the best time watching the ideas in their head come out through clay.

What do you do when you’re not designing? I spend a lot of time traveling to other places, whether for freelance work or just for fun. It’s a nice opportunity to take a break from my surroundings so that when I come back home to work I am refreshed and can look at everything with a clear mind.

What are you really excited about right now? I’m super excited about the Watershed residency this summer. I’m looking forward to be in Maine for two weeks, foraging for my own clay out of the creek behind the center. I’m excited about being able to make large-scale ceramics in their facilities. Right after that I’m spending a week exploring Newfoundland and Labrador…a place that I’ve always wanted to go.

If you hadn’t become an artist what do you think you’d be doing? Maybe material science engineering, or linguistics.

What are you listening to right now? Penguin Cafe Orchestra’s Union Cafe album.

What is your ideal studio situation/workspace? On top of a mountain or cliff that overlooks a beach in a place that has a winter and a summer that has enough room for all of my friends to hang out whenever they want.