Jill Smith ~ Clay Artist ~ ClayFox Pottery
I am a clay artist who grew up making mud pies. As a child I was constantly creating masterpieces in my sandbox by day and coloring “outside the lines” in my color books at night. Still “mud –minded” I studied ceramics at the University of Puget Sound, graduated with a BFA and later received a MFA from Whitworth University. In 1972, I established the Clay Fox Pottery and happily became a studio potter with my hands in mud ever since! I sell my clay pieces in galleries throughout the US.
My claywork has always been about process, relationship and my surroundings. Taking the fluidity of clay in my hands and transforming it into lasting rigidity lets me express the feeling of place and give it a related connection in creative work. My creative process that starts with a mental image then given physical form, must involve vision, challenge, resourceful materials and a sense of playfulness. Clay and earth pigments through the ages have documented our own human development, told our story and connected us to where we live. Nature, my life long teacher, has inspired me to create leaf designs that start out so temporary and then are preserved forever as impressions in clay. I see them as the “fossils of the future”!
I also am a writer of "Far Fetched Fables" that tell stories in a whimsical way about events, people and animals. For the last several years I have created wall hung clay totem "poles" that illustrate in visual form the fables I have written. I guess you could say I have created my own clans and tribes and then given them a clay symbol that speaks to that group's ancestry, mythic past or a symbol of a hope for their future. In the combination of written word and clay I am capturing and expressing my own totemistic beliefs.
I happily work in my studio on the banks of Peone Creek in the Little Spokane River valley. Several years ago I opened the ClayFox Clay School and teach clay classes in my studio.
Jill Smith Clay Artist photographed by Jon Lepper and Tim Halloran