“He who works with his hands is a laborer. He who works with his hands and his head is a craftsman. He who works with his hands and his head and his heart is an artist.” ― Francis of Assisi.
John Gill has been making art for many years- laboring through ideas and techniques as is the way of a ceramicist. Firing temperatures, glaze recipes, structural hand building and wheel throwing- all the essentials of a well-honed craft process. All admirable, all dismissible by the contemporary art masses. But John Gill is no ordinary craftsmen, he is a three-dimensional painter. Each side of his work a thoughtful conversation of color, pattern and texture clinging to surfaces that angle and curve, moving the eye beyond a 2-dimensional view.
For his solo show, Occurrence, the majority of pieces were made in 2021. An amazing feat given the sheer number of years he has been making work. A storied career beginning in New York City in the 1970’s, his influences are John Marin, Stuart Davis and Milton Avery. Born in 1949, he is an American Postwar and Contemporary artist telling his story through clay.
Selecting work for the exhibition was a delightful challenge; there was simply so much material to move through. Each piece a narrative worthy of attention. I decided I needed to pass through each series and find a cohesive start to begin telling this important and multi-faceted art tale. John’s enthusiasm for each piece coupled with his admiration and respect for his beloved studio assistant Tyler made for infectious conversation. Ultimately, we put together a diverse and colorful grouping. Reflecting shades of Brutalism, Memphis Design, Post-War Modernism and what is uniquely John Gill stylization. A beloved teacher at Alfred for many years, his work has often been appropriated by eager students but can never be fully replicated. Generous, spirited, whacky and warm. John Gill and his work are an American original. A worthy and wonderful occurrence.
About John Gill
John Gill is a ceramic artist and educator. Gill is a professor of Ceramic Art at the New York State College of Ceramics at Alfred University. A member of the Council of the International Academy of Ceramics, he has travelled and lectured throughout the US, Canada and China. His work has been shown at the L.A.County Museum of Art; Grace Borgenicht Gallery, New York City; Harvey Meadows Gallery, Aspen; Kraushaar Gallery, New York City; Revolution Gallery, Detroit, Michigan; Yossi Milo Gallery, New York City and Hadler Rodriquez Gallery in New York.
Gill’s work is held in the permanent collections of numerous art museums including the Brooklyn Museum, New York; the Victoria and Albert Museum, London; Newark Museum, New Jersey, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, and the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York. Gill’s work was included in the exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, NY, Shapes From Out of Nowhere. His work is featured on the cover of the catalog.