Joan Ulrich

“Objects for our hands carry certain expectations of experience. I’m concerned with assuring the expectation is more that satisfying; that the encounter invites investigation and elicits a bit of quiet surprise. I seek dynamic tension, a subtle balance of precision and chance, and the play of creating forms that at once engender two ideas:  the sense of both having been composed and having been revealed.”

Joan Ulrich is a lifelong artist with a degree in Scientific Illustration from Northern Illinois University. At The Field Museum of Natural History in Chicago, she performed the plant dissections and created the new species illustrations for ethno-botanist Timothy Plowman. She has worked as a surface designer and continues to draw, finding that figure drawing remains an indispensable habit.

For nineteen years Joan has been devoted to working with clay, starting with a summer class at Lill Street Studios in Chicago. A move to New York City intensified her studio practice and by 2004 she had participated in several national exhibits, including the Philadelphia Museum of Art Craft Show. In 2005 Joan relocated to Northern Virginia which, for a ceramic artist, offers every opportunity for atmospheric firing.

A change of place and kiln allowed a new direction in making, and Joan scaled down her forms and increased their complexity. She considers her vessels as compositions, and always holds forefront in her mind the new skin that the salt kiln will deliver to the work.  

Joan currently maintains studios at both the Workhouse Arts Center, Lorton, Virginia and the Torpedo Factory Art Center in Alexandria, Virginia. Publications include several Lark Books 500 Series and Ceramics Monthly. She exhibits nationally and internationally, and has been the recipient of numerous awards.