Josiane Keller, born in Austria, raised in Germany, received a Geselle in Ceramics at the Keramikschule Landshut, Germany, a Master of Arts in Fine Art at Leeds Beckett University, England, and a Postgraduate Diploma in Painting at Edinburgh College of Art, Scotland. She did two in-house apprenticeships in traditional potteries in Ratchaburi, Thailand and Sumiyama Bessyo, Kyoto-prefecture, Japan and an assistantship in the ceramic studio of an Outsider Art Studio in Shiga, Japan. In 2002 she moved to USA, where she lived and worked in various places and media (ceramic, drawing, lens-based media), many of them revolving around clay, and exhibits regularly nationally as well as abroad (UK, Hungary, Japan); she has been teaching extensively in various Outsider Art settings as well as curating various art projects with a strong interest in social justice within the arts, such as running an independent underground cinema until the onset of Covid 19. In 2018 she opened her second ceramic studio “Studio IMA” (Japanese transl: “Studio NOW”) in the Smoky Mountains concentrating on nature-based themes; since 2020 she is developing a series of lamb and sheep sculptures. Her work has been reviewed on multiple platforms and is held in various international private collections.
For the longest time, I was interested in topics regarding initially my own identity and then, as an immigrant in the USA, the identity of this for me exotic country, as well as the human visual sense and visual communication. In 2018 I came to understand that these are all topics regarding the ‘human experience’, which also happens to be the most commonly stated artistic concern to an extent that appears like an addiction; this gross egocentrism as a species stands in direct context with the rapid and drastic ongoing destruction of our habitat through environmental pollution, and disregard and decreasing knowledge of nature.
As an artist, I wanted to change my role within this, and thus my praxis. Instead of creating work that is an accumulation of personalized (visual) statements, in a format hardly different if viewed directly or online, I now want to create work that is based on observing and documenting nature around me, inclusive also partially focus on human pollution, and communicate that, ideally coming from a neutral position, avoiding any anthropomorphic interpretation, and also using a tangible 3D media: ceramic sculpture.
In May 2020, as a result of actual historical events, I began the current series of sculptural lambs and sheep, made from white as well as black porcelain and stoneware. Although also these are based on existing life forms aside from human beings, they are domesticated and through selective breeding manipulated creatures, and as such have accumulated strong symbolic meaning. I admit because of these facts I am swaying from my original quest to only document nature. But the topic has captivated me in many ways, and where I originally worried it would be too restricting, I experience now its potential of rich vocabulary of expression and thus communication, therefore I intend to continue on this path.