Janis Wilson Hughes - The Artist

Janis Hughes

Artist's Statement

Life is filled with inevitable and interdependent cycles of vitality: seasons of planting and harvesting, migrating birds, the ebb and flow of the tide, changing phases of the moon, and our own arc from infancy to old age. I use many symbols in my sculptural work, most notably botanical pod forms, shells, and soaring or sedentary birds, to explore vitality. My initial interest in seed pods grew out of a powerful childhood memory of stumbling through an overgrown meadow to discover a stand of milkweed bushes laden with crude, rough pods that were bursting with feathery seeds. I tore the pods open and held them high in the air releasing the fluffy, white seeds into the wind. As I watched the seeds hanging magically in the air like snowflakes, I realized they would become milkweed bushes the next year. Drawing from that stirring encounter, I utilize pods to reference the various forms in which new life is protected. In contrast, the organic voids and passages in my Traverse bottles as well as their earthy finish are a visual representation of my interest in nature's ability to wear down and sculpt stone, wood, and even bone through the movement of air and water. With the Appalachian woods as my childhood playground, I watched the forces of nature both build up and tear down life in an endless cycle. Today the themes of my work encompass both celebrating the protective shells of latent, dormant life personified in my seed pod sculptures as well as exploring the open spaces created through the weathering of time as embodied in my Traverse pots. My work is a tribute to our own inseparability from nature's cycles.

The Mark

Signature Mark

On my finished wares, the mark is sometimes carved but usually stamped.

On the simplest level, this mark is a combination of my initials J & H. On a deeper level, my mark intertwines my initials with my zodiac sign of Pisces. The ancient Greek origins of my mark refer to the currents of my personality and soul which each have very different and sometimes conflicting elements that together make me who I am. Sometimes the creative tensions are evident in my work while at other times they are balanced smoothly. This is also a reference to the duality of my training as a scientist and my creative alter ego as a potter.



Janis Wilson Hughes hails from the Smoky Mountains of Johnson City, Tennessee. In 1998 Hughes obtained a degree in Chemical Engineering with an Environmental specialization from Auburn University in Auburn, Alabama. Soon after graduating and moving to Wisconsin she began her journey with clay studying under potter Rick McKinney while working as a research scientist and engineer. For years Hughes continued to study from ceramists from around the country, and she built her own pottery studio in 2004 after moving to Georgia. In 2009, after 11 years struggling to find fulfillment working in Chemical Engineering, Hughes left the corporate world entirely to pursue her passion for clay. She is now a fulltime ceramic artist and owner of Evolution Stoneware Pottery, LLC. While her early work was primarily functional, Hughes nature based sculptural work gained notoriety in 2011 when her "Woodland Pod Quintet" was awarded 1st Prize in the 17th Annual Nellie Allen Smith Juried Pottery Competition juried by Gay Smith at Cape Fear Studios, Inc. in Fayetteville, North Carolina. And soon following, her solo show "Seeds and Pods" was presented at the State Botanical Garden of Georgia in Athens, Georgia. Later in 2012 Hughes expanded her creative vision for her body of nature inspired work during a fruitful artist residency as a Fellow at the Hambidge Center for Creative Arts and Sciences located in the mountains of North Georgia. Hughes has been featured on the cover of Clay Times Magazine and print articles in Pottery Making Illustrated Magazine and the Ceramic Arts Daily website. While Hughes' primary focus is on making art, she also teaches techniques through workshops, articles for pottery magazines, short videos, and three commercially available DVDs. Hughes' work has been presented in more than forty national and international exhibitions, is held in private collections in Europe, and is available in several galleries. In 2014 she was awarded 1st Prize in the Southworks national juried exhibition in Watkinsville, Georgia, and the Art League of Hilton Head presented her second solo exhibition "Cycles of Vitality" at the Walter Greer Gallery on Hilton Head Island, South Carolina. Hughes was awarded 1st Prize in the Georgia Artists 2015 juried exhibit presented by Fulton County Arts & Culture in Sandy Springs, Georgia. In 2016 she is slated to present in a 3 person exhibition titled "Of the Earth" at the Dalton Gallery in Rock Hill, South Carolina January 8 - February 14, a solo exhibition "Balance, Bounty, & Awakening" at the Roswell Cultural Arts Center in Roswell, Georgia in February and March 2016, and a to-be-titled solo exhibition at the Appalachian Center for Craft at Tennessee Tech University May 20 - June 24, 2016. Hughes currently resides in Alpharetta, Georgia with her husband Rob and two dogs Luna and Perseus.

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