I am Jessica Gutierrez, a self-proclaimed serial hobbyist and ceramics artist based in Galveston, Texas.
The impermanence and fragility of this craft has breathed life into my work from the day of my first introductory class in 2016. I lived in Vermont, a state where the running joke is that there is a potter for every person. I took this beginner class series at the local art center incredibly seriously — I wanted complete pieces. I wanted the detail to far exceed my experience level. Comically, I wanted to create an entire dinnerware set for my home. But instead of learning the art of ceramics, I fell into the art of patience and ease. I quickly learned that in order to deeply practice and grow as a potter, I must be fully okay with what becomes of it, but also, what doesn’t become of it. Coincidentally, this aligned with a concept in my yoga practice that is arguably the most meaningful to me: santosha, or contentment, which is the act of being okay with what is and what is not. When I work with my hands, I am wholly okay with loss and the idea that any piece could become damaged, broken, or deviate from what I envisioned it would become. Ultimately, this concept has become my inspiration, enabled me to create without fear, and allowed me to believe in the undiscovered abilities within myself.
In 2020, I had been learning ceramics for 4 years and mentored by Abbie Edmonson of Box Sparrow Studio in an apprenticeship-style role for about 2 years, an opportunity that I had viewed as nothing less than golden. After months of deliberation and developing this idea of what my life could be as an artist, I planned my transition away from an 8-year career as a Registered Nurse and committed to the idea of becoming a full-time artist. Supported by my husband, friends, and mentor, I developed goals on paper, became more involved in the local art and ceramics community, and signed up for my first exhibition. I was 24 hours away from realizing a goal that had slowly burned in me for so long.
In a grand summation of this period of uncertainty and optimism, I was hospitalized with a stroke at the age of 30 — on the day before my last official shift as a nurse. For one very long day, I wondered if I would be able to use my left hand and if I would be able to see. I had to consider what this meant for my transition and how this would impact my future as a ceramics artist. It is hard for me to conceptualize what that life would have looked like, but after a complete recovery, I have been able to continue that journey. The near-loss of everything I hoped would come of this artist path only solidified what I knew to be true. The act of creating is not something I could live without and it was time to lean in.
I create functional ceramics both in my home studio and as a Studio Assistant for Box Sparrow Studio in Houston, Texas. I incorporate clean lines and modern silhouettes, creating with intention while still allowing each piece to develop its own variation and story. I blend my mother’s creativity and my father’s utility by integrating every skill and hobby I have into my work as a ceramicist. An expression of my identity as a “multipotentialite”, you will find pieces adorned with handlettered messages, vessels filled with handpoured wood wick candles, and clay that has been rescued or reclaimed from mistakes. Knowing that I practice sustainability by reclaiming as many supplies as possible allows me the freedom to challenge my skill level and my natural tendency to follow the call of my curiosity even more. Each time I work with my hands, it is a delicate experiment in both creation and in myself that I feel lucky to be able to forge my way in.
Clay love and mine,