Wednesday, May 20, 2015

John Cheer, Clay Sculpture Artist, Tells His Story

I was born in communist China in 1966 and raised in Shanghai and Peking. As a child, I had a natural gift for taking things apart and putting them back together again. At age 8, I made an entire Chinese circus out of child’s clay, with everything in miniature, including every act from bicyclists to twirling plates.

Sea Life 20" x 13" x 4"

When I was 12 years old, my family immigrated to the United States and settled in Torrance, a suburb of Los Angeles, California. Sadly, my father died when I was in high school, and my mother, who had no job at the time, went to live with my sister, who was attending the University of California-Los Angeles on a scholarship. Left on my own, I lived in a friend’s garage while attending West High School in Torrance. To support myself, I worked after school at a number of jobs, preferring to wait tables or wash dishes at a restaurant for free meals.

During my high school years, an inspirational art teacher encouraged me to pursue my interests in clay and sculpture. In order to support myself in school, I also studied auto body and mechanics and eventually owned my own small auto body and paint business.

Nautical Son of Zen - 34" x 34" x 5"

In 1991, I relocated to the northeast and became a full-time clay artist, selling my work at fine art and craft shows throughout the country. My early work was traditional and functional, and has gradually evolved over the years into decorative and abstract contemporary. In recent years, I have added copper wire to some creations.

Scuba diving is among my favorite hobbies and I strive to bring the colors of the water and sea life into my work. In an attempt to capture the transparent and light-reflective nature of water, I incorporate glass into some of my work.

Turquoise Fish 21" x 23" x 5"

Inspired by the energy and flow of nature, my decorative wall plates and sculpture are strong in their individuality and form. Each piece possesses an unmistakable spirit and is truly a one-of-a-kind piece of art.

Sun King - 23" x 20" x 6"

The stoneware clay is wheel-thrown and hand sculpted into a unique design. Then I glaze the bisque ware before it is high-fired in a gas kiln. I add crushed glass during the glazing process to certain pieces. This is a long and delicate process, perfecting the fusion of stoneware and porcelain, glass and glaze.

Stingray - 36" x 20" x 4"

I do about 24 shows per year, primarily along the east coast and the south, but have also shown in Texas, Colorado, and Arizona. I have won 55 awards at fine art and craft shows and have been featured in Ceramics Monthly and The Crafts Report. My ‘Soul Search’ fountain/lamp was shown at The State Museum in Harrisburg, PA.

Soul Search fountain/lamp - 50" x 26"

My work ranges in price from $35-$6,000, and it is a constant effort to balance production demands with my artistic needs.

John at work

I want my work to not only be unusual, but evolutionary, as well as a continual discovery process for the viewer. For me, there is gratification in creating an echo of something greater than us within ourselves.

John's work is in many private collections throughout the United States and abroad. To see more of John's work please visit his website. You can also connect with him on Facebook.

This is Week 19 of 52 Artists in 52 Weeks. Thank you for reading and sharing John's post today!

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