Photos by Hillary Ehlen and Spencer Johannes
As we were going around to local stores and visiting art galleries for our winter shopping guide, there was one name that we kept hearing over and over again: Spencer R. Johannes. Just who is this young ceramicist? We simply had to find out.
Originally from Sartell, Minnesota, Johannes was drawn to Moorhead because of MSUM’s reputable art department. In the spring of 2017, he graduated with a BFA with an emphasis in Illustration, a BFA with an emphasis in ceramics and a Certificate in Professional Portfolio Development.
Following a lifelong interest in art, Johannes began seriously studying pottery about four and a half years ago. As a young artist, though he considers himself to be more of a craftsman, Johannes was initially concerned with making connections, but soon realized that the best thing he could do was to create a strong body of work.
His Studio Space
Now, Johannes is thankful to have a studio at APT Creative Incubator in Downtown Fargo. After graduation, he invested in a used pottery wheel and kiln. “Starting a ceramic studio is like being a farmer; it requires a lot of investment up front to get the necessary equipment,” Johannes explained.
In addition to being a ceramicist, Johannes has delved into the world of woodworking with handmade chess sets, frames and furniture. “I recently got into it, but I wish I would’ve started when I was younger,” he explained. Unlike his pottery, Johannes feels a sense of connection to his chess sets because they can take a very long time to make. “I don’t really have an attachment to any of my pottery anymore except for the larger pieces because I have a tendency to break them,” he said with a laugh.
His Work on Display
Though he has just graduated recently, Johannes has already sold pieces at C. Lizzy’s and Gallery 4 in Downtown Fargo. After Cari Luchau of C. Lizzy’s heard about his work, she offered Johannes a place in their handmade gift and art gallery. Since then, he has participated in Corks and Canvas events at their store. However, because C. Lizzy’s is closing their doors and becoming a pop-up studio and online store, Johannes applied to have his work shown at Gallery 4 where he was also accepted.
“Utilizing a variety of techniques such as wheel throwing, carving and woodworking, as well as mixed media applications, I strive to create vessels that are a man-made representation of earth and sky.”
Much of Johannes’s work reflects his interest in earth sciences. As a child, he was fascinated with the geodes and rocks that were on display in his parents’ home. Today, Johannes is still influenced by nature because he takes inspiration from constellations, timber, rocks, water and land formations.
For more information, contact:
Spencer R. Johannes