Seagrove Pre-Conference Artist
Fred Jonhnston’s origins in clay are rooted in the southern folk pottery traditions of North Carolina. Growing up in the rural south has given him access to its colorful history and characters, which serves as a wellspring of ideas. Storytelling is a regional pastime, consequently, he questions how a pot can tell a story. Yet his work draws from many cultures: Greek, Korean, Chinese, Pre-Columbian, European and Mimbres.
Johnston received a BFA from Alfred University in New York and a MFA from Penn State University in Pennsylvania before moving to Seagrove and establishing Johnston and Gentithes Pottery with his partner Carol Gentithes.
He continues to explore historical paintings, architecture, literature, sculpture and ceramics which he contrasts with the southern vernacular creating a hybrid and developing a personal language of forms and motifs. For example, he may use visual references from the paintings of Hieronymus Bosch or the literature of Joel Harris Chandler’s tales of Uncle Remus to redefine the archetypal jug form of the southern United States.
At the moment, Johnston is interested in the abstraction of nature. He questions how mark making and decoration accentuates form while at the same time contemplating what forms are best suited for a particular zoomorphic motif. He relies on intuition, spontaneity and what is visceral as a mode of creating, and believes that a pot truly reveals itself over time and use. Only through deep investigation can one begin to internalize their ideas into a growing and evolving personal vision. The journey continues.