Julia Janeway

Published on by Lindsay Budner.

I think my work will always be about my love of story-telling. I find stories in the ordinary moments of life's larger narrative-- the way a magpie alights on a fence, the bowed top of a flower past its bloom, some funny comment overheard on the street, the way a swallow's wings turn sharp against the sky. My mother was a potter and art teacher. Under her influence, I grew up making art, but concentrated on books in school, eventually earning a Ph.D. in English in 1994. I wanted to be a writer. But that same year, my mom died, leaving me her well-used wheel, a kiln, and a series of mysterious glaze recipes. It took nearly ten years and several moves later to see what I had inherited. 

I found myself in Southern Oregon teaching literature but connecting with a group a ceramic artists who showed me how to shape the fog of grief into the delight of working with clay. During those years, my studio was a 6 X 6 foot pumphouse where I worked every spare moment, making pots and competing with the pump and waterlines for space. My kiln was outside. As a result, I like to say that my apprenticeship in ceramics was literally affected by the rolling of the seasons and the events of the natural world around me.

The illustration aspect of my work borrows heavily from books, particularly woodcut and lithograph prints. I often incorporate words into designs and layers of colored slips and underglazes. Each piece is hand carved from original patterns and drawings of my own. As I carve, I often wonder where the work will end up-- In a house in the Warsaw Woods? On some table in Italy? I wonder what story my work will tell someone else-- "Take heart because there are goldfinch in the world!" or "You haven't realized it, but I know you love bears and I have always loved you" or "The time has come in our marriage for us to start raising chickens." 

Or maybe my work will just make someone laugh. I can't think of anything more rewarding than that.