Jess Parker is a part-time studio potter and fitness instructor and full-time mom living in Berkeley, California. She received her BA in Psychology from Pomona College in 1990 and a BFA in Ceramics from New York State College of Ceramics at Alfred University in 1997. She completed a two-year residency at the Archie Bray Foundation from 1997-1999. In 1999 Jess moved back to the San Francisco Bay Area to establish her own studio. She has exhibited nationally and internationally, has taught nationally at art centers and universities, and was a board director at the Archie Bray Foundation from 2001 to 2010. She currently makes pots, teaches ceramics at The Potter’s Studio in Berkeley and owns her own stand up paddleboard fitness company, 510-Waterline, teaching SUP on the San Francisco Bay and beyond.
Strength lies in the fluidity of opposites – of line and mass, contraction and relaxation, tension and softness, push and pull. Outside of the studio I enjoy the beauty as well as the physical demands and challenges of being out of doors: running in the hills of Berkeley, paddling on the San Francisco Bay, or simply taking a walk for fresh air. These pursuits require me to immerse myself in my physical environment and allow me to draw fresh inspiration. While my body is occupied my mind can wander. They require focus, endurance, power, motion, strength, conservation, grace and balance. I use my body both in my clay work and in these physical pursuits. I think about and look at bodies, particularly musculature and how it works together, to allow us to move and to create. There is a tension revealed between the strength and grace of a contracted muscle, between its form and the natural softness of curve and lines of delineation. My pots are made of opposites similar to those demanded of physical strength. There exists a subtle tension between pure, controlled form and something looser and more organic. Ultimately I want my pots to be graceful, elegant, and straightforward. It’s all about strength and beauty.
In 2003 I became a mother of twins. My husband said in those first few months of being new parents that he thought being a mother was the truest embodiment of the vessel. While I was not in the studio, I do know my creative energy was at it’s fullest and was being challenged and tested in new ways every day. When I first got back into the studio again I was worried my hands would not remember what to do. I quickly found they were not all that rusty, in fact, I feel my pots have become stronger. The time I now have to spend in the studio is very focused and efficient. And yet in some strange way having less time has actually freed me up. I simply don’t have the time to think through every decision. I have to try things as they come into my head or know that I may never get to them. This approach has allowed my pots (and my life) to become more playful and at the same time more definite.