Mitchell Spain

Black and white photo of artist Mitchell Spain


Mitchell Spain was born and raised near Des Moines, IA. He received his BFA in Ceramics in 2012 from the University of Iowa. During his time at Iowa he created trompe l’oeil ceramic objects, such as wagon wheel teapots, earning an honorable mention in the international exhibition Big Fish Small Pot. Mitchell was accepted to pursue an MFA at the University of Kansas Fall of 2012. While at Kansas he was accepted into the NCECA National Student Juried Exhibition twice, winning 3rd place overall and the Ceramics: Art and Perception Technical Merit award in 2013. During his tenure at Kansas, Mitchell exhibited in many national and international exhibitions, including the Zanesville Prize for Contemporary Ceramics, and appeared in Ceramics Monthly. An article he authored on his research of ceramic threading was published in the November 2014 issue of Ceramics: TECHNICAL magazine. He currently lives south of Des Moines, Iowa with his wife Reanna and their two dogs.



The impulse to build seems inherent in our nature. As children, our imagination allows us to view an object as a unit apart from its intended purpose. Throughout our explorations with objects we encounter faults and failures with which we establish ideas of balance, gravity, and form, testing theories about our physical and social realities. Our ability to review our faults in order to prevent future mistakes is invaluable, yet so often these former follies are disregarded. With my work I explore my personal connection with the physical and social world in which I exist. I employ imagery from the past in order to form an understanding of the present, combining elements that assume both the rise and fall of hierarchies within a society. The sense of an impending collapse produced by the implied instability of the form creates physical and emotional tension while the children’s block forms act as a symbol of innocence and education; exemplifying the lack of understanding from past mistakes. There is the moral of all human tales:

‘Tis but the same rehearsal of the past,

First Freedom, and then Glory—when that fails,

Wealth, vice, corruption—barbarism at last.

And History, with all her volumes vast, Hath but ONE page.

-Lord Byron



• Master of Fine Arts, Ceramics- University of Kansas-2015

• Bachelor of Fine Arts, Ceramics- University of Iowa-2012

Selected Publications/Exhibitions

Decalcomania, Reese Gallery, St. Louis MO (2015). NCECA National Student Juried Exhibition

(2015, 2013). Building to Fall, Solo MFA Thesis Exhibition (2015).

Spain, Mitchell, Threaded. Ceramics: TECHNICAL; Issue 39 November 2014, pp. 8-13 (2014).

Zanesville Prize for Contemporary Ceramics, Zanesville, OH (2014). IMAGE: A Ceramic Show of

Decalcomania (2014). Annual Workhouse Clay National, Lorton, VA (2014, 2013). Yunomi

Invitational Exhibition, AKAR Art | Design | Architecture (2014, 2013). Bluegrass Bourbon: By

the Bottle, By the Ounce: National Juried Exhibition (2013). It’s Only Clay National Juried

Ceramics Competition and Exhibition (2012). The Teapot Redefined, Mobilia Gallery (2012). New

Work Artist, AKAR Art | Design | Architecture (2012). Big Fish, Small Pot V International

Exhibition (2012). By Any Means Necessary, Solo BFA Exhibition (2012). S&AM Smithing and Art

Materials Competition (2011)

Selected Awards

• NCECA National Student Juried Exhibition, Earth/Energy, Houston, TX

• Ceramics Art and Perception Technical Merit Award

• 3rd Place Overall Graduate

• Big Fish, Small Pot V International Exhibition (2012)

• Honorable Mention

• It’s Only Clay National Juried Ceramics Competition and Exhibition (2012)

• 2nd Place Overall

• Margaret Harlow Collection Purchase Award

• S&AM Smithing and Art Materials Competition (2011)

• 2nd Place Overall

Teaching Experience

• Graduate Teaching Assistant, University of Kansas, 2012-2015

• Peer Mentor, University of Iowa, Spring 2012