Red Lodge Clay Center – Short-Term Resident 2008, (AIA) 2017
Jess Parker was born and raised in Berkeley, California. Leaving in 1986 for college and life, she received her Bachelor of Arts degree from Pomona College in 1990, a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from Alfred University in 1997 and completed a two year ceramic residency at the Archie Bray Foundation in 1999. Jess returned to the Bay Area in 1999 to settle down and raise her family. She served on the Board of Directors at the Archie Bray from 1999-2008, taught adult throwing classes at The Potters Studio in Berkeley from 2008-2020 and has maintained her own pottery studio since 1999. Jess currently makes pots at her studio at home and co-owns 510-Waterline, a stand-up paddleboard company in Richmond, CA. She also teaches yoga in the park. Jess thinks of herself as “demo-mom”. She spends a lot of her time demonstrating to and guiding others – and enjoys the benefits of reciprocal learning which can naturally come through teaching.
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 outdoors. 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 all works together. 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. Pots I make today have developed from the multitude of pots I have made in the past and exist along a continuum. They reference what and how I enjoy touching clay with a focus on the purpose of function and containment. Ultimately, I want my pots to be graceful, elegant, and straightforward. It’s all about strength and beauty.
Text for the “Heavy Lifting Series” 2022:
Sidelined by a knee injury at the beginning of this year, I spent a lot of time lying on my floor bending and straightening my knee for range of motion and slowly rebuilding the muscles and strength of my leg. I also spent a lot of time looking at physical therapy exercise equipment. Naturally, as a potter does, I saw pots. Dumbbells have hexagonal bowls on either end, the curve of a Bosu ball is a shallow bowl, and a lifting plate, well, can be a plate.
These pots allowed me to scratch several itches I have had of wanting to hand build, work in red clay, and play with surface decoration. Reflecting on my Artist Statement I realize they are right in line with my interest in bodies and physical strength as well.
They were challenging, therapeutic and fun to make.