Joanna Bloom lived in Connecticut, New York, and New Mexico before settling in Portland, Oregon. With degrees in Child Development and Education, she spent years teaching and designing art workshops and classes which she conducted nationally. The work her students created continuously inspired her to want to make her own. This precipitated her decision to leave teaching and explore the world of art, or more specifically, the world of clay.
It was in her travels to Oregon that she encountered the work of Thomas Orr, and immediately knew that she wanted to study with him. She fibbed her way into his large-scale sculpture class where it soon became obvious she had no technical understanding of ceramics whatsoever. Yet being a folk artist at heart, she was not deterred. Though she never pursued a formal education in art, she had the good fortune to workshop with Peter Voulkos, Richard Notkin, Julia Galloway, Chris Antemann, Lisa Orr, Ayumie Horie and others, as well as gain a lifelong education from working with her now husband Thomas Orr.
Joanna’s studio is part of The Ash Street Project, a vision she crafted with her husband that encompasses studios, creative experimentation and mentorship.
These sculptural vessels and candlesticks evolved from what I think of as gestural pots, or little sketches in clay. What began as quick little exercises to explore shape and form, evolved into pieces that I now find myself reworking almost obsessively. The gesture remains, but in addition they gain a history from the reworking and layering of textures, pigments and colors. They are constantly evolving.
The imagery that influences these pieces runs the gamut from folk art to cake decorating, microscopic plant life, to the magical surfaces of Hunterwasser’s architecture. The abundance of natural forms found in the woods of the Pacific Northwest fuels my creativity. Colorful and often minute in nature, this multilayered world provides a visual feast for those who take the time to look closely. My hope is that this work provides some of the same.