From pottery to porcelain, it’s almost an archaeological axiom that the secrets of a people can be found in their ceramic arts. Even the tiniest sherd (yep, “sherd”) tells the tales of its maker in form, purpose and composition. Here in Sarasota, our ceramicist stories are as varied as they are beautiful—each one a handmade union of artist and earth, frozen by fire.


Beautiful Tension

In her latest sculptural series,  Morgan Janssen finally confronts an age-old problem with pottery—it just kinda sits there. “They’re not interacted much with once they’re put on display,” she says. “I liked the idea of inviting people to touch.” Enter Janssen’s Cliff Notes, a series of kinetic sculptures designed to be nudged, pushed, rolled and poked with, at least, mild abandon. Rounded and hollow, they look built to wander and dangerous to prod, but weighted slabs affixed to the interior keep each piece lazily wombling back to its original orientation instead of bumbling away. Further confounding the gravitational equation, sculpted brass “tropiflora” easily attach to any piece via internal magnets, making each sculpture—and its movement—customizable and just a bit unpredictable. Irreverent yet inherently fragile, the tension brings a visceral excitement to the ceramic arts not seen since the brief but tragic ceramic shark cage craze of 1965.

Ceramic artwork by,, @momo_didit

Utilitarian Connection

For ceramicist and sculptor Andrew Long, the medium shines when returning to its roots, with artists turning forth plates and bowls, cups and mugs—functional artifacts of daily life, each thoughtfully considered and crafted for its purpose. “I like the intimacy of handmade objects,” Long says, and he finds something sacred in the injection of artistry and care they bring to everyday motions like eating or drinking. “It turns a passive activity into an active one,” he says, “where you’re more aware, more engaged in the action.” Fired at 2,300 degrees for increased durability, Long gives each of his pieces an additional artistic signature in the form of homemade glazes that he whips up himself, each specifically designed to react with the high heat. “I like to bring the character of the process through in my work,” he says.


Ceramic artwork found at, @claybeard_ceramics.

Autobiographic Fantastic

Taylor Robenalt sculpts her life’s journey in pure porcelain—and what a year it has been. A year of new life and new beginnings, with Robenalt celebrating her first child and her canine companion having puppies in solidarity—not to mention starting a new job at Ringling College of Art & Design and receiving an artist residency in Greece. The resulting exuberance and optimism pour forth in the porcelain forms of rabbits, raccoons and squirrels, silver-tongued wolves and ruby-lipped women with red cardinals atop their heads. Each piece is hand-built by Robenalt, who describes the joy of working in this most delicate ceramic material as “like working with butter.” Whimsical and totemic, the series sees the artist further exploring a symbolic narrative that harnesses the fantastic to transcend the specific. “In a weird way, I end up hitting a chord with people,” Robenalt says. “Inevitably, I will sync up with somebody.”

Ceramic artwork by,