John Born aka Humble Matter is a ceramics artist from New York who began making ceramics in 2012 as an escape from his career in advertising. “I’d been working in the industry for 15 years. It was a career that I fell into and turned out to be good at, however it also made me deeply unhappy. The ‘things’ we made were based on fear, usually trafficked in mediocre design, and were of little or no value. Ceramics saved me when I started making real things – objects you could pick up and run your hand over and feel the texture and the warmth or cold of. I found a real joy in envisioning something and then being able to bring it into the real world as a beautiful object. I’ve been blessed in that I’ve had a very positive response to my ceramics, and no longer work in advertising.”
At the heart of functional ceramics is the creation of proxies for humans – vessels that reference the original vessel. They become the tools which improve upon or do the work we cannot do: carry water, store food, display items of beauty or value. These are jobs as old as time, and bonds which connect the past to the present; the present to the future; and ultimately, the future back to the past. Says John: “My work uses a vocabulary of repeated shapes in an attempt to create archetypal forms that feel like an inevitable part of this continuum. They not only serve a purpose as functional pieces, but as talismans that ground us in the magic and importance of everyday objects and rituals in an increasingly inhuman and digitized world.”
John’s inspiration includes Cycladic pottery and early 20th century modernist sculpture, with reference to Constantin Brancusi, Hans Coper, Ettore Sottsass and Ruth Duckworth. John holds a BFA from the University of Wisconsin, and was a student at Greenwich House Pottery (the oldest non-profit ceramics studio in the US). He lives with his family in Brooklyn, NY, and works out of his studio at Brickhouse Ceramic Art Center in Queens.