JoAnn Axford lives and maintains her studio in Glenmont, New York. She received her bachelor degree at the University of Bridgeport, Conn. and her masters from The College of Saint Rose. Her interest in botanical imagery led her to post-graduate study in Botanical Illustration at The New York Botanical Garden.
It was during her studies in the Skidmore College studio that she developed her unique technique for carving bas-relief porcelain pottery. She looks to Song dynasty Chinese porcelains and American Arts and Crafts period artist Adelaide Robineau for her carving inspiration. Unlike these influences, she does not glaze her porcelain vessels, choosing rather to retain the sculptural quality of un-glazed porcelain enhanced by hand polishing.
JoAnn finds inspiration in balancing her studio practice with teaching. She has taught in public schools, art centers, and colleges, most recently at Sage College in Albany, NY.
JoAnn’s work has been included in invitational and juried exhibits throughout the United States, including the prestigious “Strictly Functional Pottery National”, Potter’s Council exhibit at the National Council on Education for The Ceramic Arts conference, and locally “The Artists of the Mohawk Hudson Region”. Her work has appeared in Ceramics Monthly and Clay Times.
For centuries potters have been making pots to satisfy the functional needs of society – the storage and safekeeping of their nourishment. My pots are also about containment and safekeeping. They contain my response to the natural world and my wish for its preservation. I strive to record the resiliency of nature in the bas-relief botanical images that I carve into the porcelain surface. I attempt to also capture the delicacy and fragility of the blossoms that will ironically be outlived by my pots
Seduced by the beauty of flowers, on my pots they are metaphors for qualities in the human and natural worlds. The “Invasive” series celebrates the strength and vigorous growth of plants like the Bindweed, Wisteria and Trumpet Vine. Their beauty belies their power to disrupt natural habitat, native plants and animals. The beauty of the Loosestrife does not hint at its destruction of the nesting grounds of the Red-winged blackbird.
The intricate beauty in nature compels me to employ a complex process to translate this to the surface of my pots. I create the bas-relief botanical images by carving into the leather hard clay, a process that can take more than one hundred hours. Each piece is hand polished after the first firing, the bisque, and again after the final high temperature firing to achieve a smooth marble like sheen.
Through the intricately carved floral images my pots provide a botanical lens. As objects of contemplation, it is my hope that my pots will celebrate the beauty and strength of nature and encourage its preservation.