Joe Pintz is an artist and ceramicist living and working in the USA. He creates mundane forms based on utilitarian vessels and gardening tools. His functional and sculptural ceramic work explores the role that domestic objects play in fulfilling our physical and emotional needs. In the process, the dense meaning of these objects is transferred into clay.
What have you rebelled against in the past and what are you rebelling against now?
In my case, rebellion was a slower, more drawn out thing. Making the choice to follow the path of being in the arts went against the grain within my family. They have since come around to support my decision even if they don’t fully understand it. By now, I have a university teaching job and a career that is established. But, being a new father and the demands that have come with it have made keeping a balanced life more challenging. So my rebellion is now more of an act of persistence/endurance to just keep making work.
Do you need to be a rebel to enjoy your work?
Choosing to use pottery or other functional crafts is an act of rebellion against the world of mass produced goods that are divorced from their makers. Using work made by the hand puts a face behind what we use in our daily lives.
Do you use your own pieces?
I make a range of ceramics, from everyday pottery to more sculptural pieces. I do eat out of my pottery every day along with a wide range of other hand-made ceramics.
Do you think dishware can still be improved?
I think there is always room for new ideas and improvements. My personal challenge is to continue to make interesting forms while keeping the design as pared down as possible.
What was the inspiration for your Steinbeisser series?
I made purely sculptural garden implements, a series of shovel head plates for my part in the Steinbeisser dinner. I was interested in how they could visually and conceptually reconnect the food back to the land.
Describe your work in three words!
Useful. Necessary. Essential.
What kind of material do you use? Where do you get them from?
While in graduate school, I began working with clay from a local brick manufacturer. With a few minor alterations, the minimally processed material that was once sent down the conveyor belt to make bricks is now the backbone of what I use to make my artwork. It has a rich terracotta color and retains a coarse quality, it will not produce fine, elegant lines or smooth surfaces typically associated with commercial pottery.
What are you working on right now?
I am always trying to work on finding a balance between being an artist and my responsibilities as a husband, father, and university teacher. It is never easy but I feel fortunate to live the life that I do!
What excites you about tomorrow?
The ability to continue working and try something new is exciting to me.
What has been your favourite dinner experience?
I grew up in a working class family in Chicago, my parents are German immigrants. Both my parents love to cook and take great pride in their flower and vegetable gardens. Nearly every meal was eaten together at home around the dinner table, featuring fresh vegetables they had grown or those we had canned. We also made trips to neighbouring states to pick seasonal fruits and vegetables. To this day, our family still goes through the tradition of picking sour cherries in Michigan. After picking, our collective attention is turned to the kitchen. Turning one hundred pounds of cherries into jam is quite a bit of work, but the product that can be enjoyed all year is well worth the effort. The physicality of this time consuming process always has a way of bringing us together. Through experiences like this, my parents taught me the values of working with your hands and being self-sufficient. My parents enjoy inviting relatives and friends over for celebrations. The preparations for these family feasts started at least a few days in advance. Both my mom and dad would outdo themselves with traditional German dishes, from home-made sausage to Black Forest torte. These meals were not fancy but they remain some of my most treasured memories.
What further ambitions do you have?
It is my hope that I continue to make good work, as well as to be a good teacher, husband and father.