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Featured Artist  

Janis Mars Wunderlich
American ceramist (and mother of five).

Born in Akron, Ohio in 1970, Janis Mars Wunderlich received her BFA from Brigham Young University in Utah and MFA from Ohio State University. Her ceramic sculptures have been in numerous national and international exhibitions, including 3 solo exhibitions in the past year. She has held workshops and lectures at many museums and universities throughout the U.S. and Canada.

Janis has been the recipient of several awards and grants, including multiple fellowships from The Ohio Arts Council and The Greater Columbus Arts Council. Janis and her husband Philip have five children. She is a full-time artist and mother... For more information and images, please visit Janis' website http://www.janismarswunderlich.com.



Artist's Statement

Janis Mars Wunderlich at workMy imagery captures the exhaustion and exhilaration of life as both a creative artist and busy parent. My children inspire me with both their imaginative minds and animal-like energy. As I nurture and care for them, they continually feed my thoughts with their “fairytale-like” quirkiness.

But parenting is physically and emotionally demanding! The cleaning, cooking, chores, and laundry never end. The tantrums, messy diapers, and adolescent “sassiness” are emotionally draining. The babies are always clinging to me, hanging onto my arms and legs. Sometimes I look like a playground! But I love it!

My recent work explores the idea of “accessorizing” with children. Sometimes I feel as though my wardrobe consists of kids from head to toe. Instead of “artsy” or fancy accessories and jewelry, I have children hanging from my ears, neck, and arms! In a sense, the mother figure seems hidden or lost behind all the clingy creatures. But in reality, she is strengthened, clothed, and made beautiful by them. They give her layers, textures, identity.

Children’s literature is a big influence in my work, from Peter Rabbit and Curious George to the Wild Things and Grimm Fairy Tales.. (My kids LOVE stories!). Mother Goose has especially influenced me in recent works. I love the bizarre poetry about men who go to sea in a bowl, cows jumping over the moon, or dishes running away with spoons! These stories, much like my sculptures, are filled with animalistic creatures who provoke the mind to look beyond reality into the realm of the imagination.

I feel a natural connection to the animal kingdom, (mostly because my children often behave like naughty little animals!) but also because of the inherent nurturing and protective instincts that I possess as a mother. My imagery often has animalistic qualities, making my sculptures reference humanity in all its diversities.

I am amazed at how my parental experiences—the good and frustrating—fuel my imagination. I view my sculptural works much like journal entries that document my personal journeys. I often create work laden with complex dualities, showing both the suffering and joys of life.

My sculptures are handbuilt using thin, slab-like coils of clay. The glaze surfaces are built up by multifiring layers of underglaze, slips, and overglaze.

Motherhood fills my mind and life with such incredible images and experiences. The challenge for me is to keep my sanity and sense of humor as I balance my time between all the fun and craziness of parenthood and art-making. It’s been an amazing journey so far!

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