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.
If you had access to all the powers, how would you improve the world?
Making sure that we could all work together in a way that is equitable for all.
What are the biggest sustainability challenges in your work and how are you addressing them?
Shipping my work is one of my biggest challenges when it comes to sustainability. I try to sell as much of my work locally as I can. When I do have to ship work, I try to reuse as much recycled packing material as possible. When I do purchase packing materials, I try to buy more earth friendly options such as biodegradable packing peanuts.
Which conscious lifestyle choices are you making? And are you considering any new ones?
One of the most consistent lifestyle choices I choose is to support local agriculture through buying produce at my farmers market. I’m fortunate to live in an area that has a lot of local farmers that are working at small scale and have found a way to support themselves through selling to their community. This produce is always fresh, tastes great, and is so much more sustainable as it is not shipped half way around the world.
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 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 pieces?
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 has been your favorite 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 excites you about tomorrow?
The ability to continue working and try something new is exciting to me.