The work of Joanna Poag centers around the concept of homeostasis, the process in which a system maintains stability through self-regulation. Homeostasis is most applicable to living creatures, but Poag reinterprets the concept through her work in ceramics. Ceramic art creates it’s own system – a delicate balance of materials to create the physical medium, the artist’s hand to balance the composition, the precise control of the kiln environment to mature into ceramic art. Poag unpacks the order and structure of homeostasis in parallel to the medium of ceramics, intertwining science and art.
The forms Poag uses are sweeping, contained gestures that reference cells and tissues and references the idea of systems within systems. Each design has a plan, laid out on paper for Poag to replicate. She maintains the order of the design, yet each duplicate has its own flaws. Her marks are fingerprints left behind from creation — the process of homeostasis is not the same for each aspect of a system.
Neither is development the same for each artist. Poag’s childhood was supplemented with art education and museum visits, encouraged to play and explore the world around her. The artist developed from her innate curiosity, a desire to learn and understand which led her to begin her secondary education as a psychology major. When Poag delved into the arts, she found that the sciences helped her develop a method of thinking, an approach to content that was informed by analysis and order.
Her background influences her practice. Poag’s forms are reminiscent of graphs or sound waves, of atoms or electron clouds, of brush strokes or movements. She seeks to unpack the concepts of order, balance, and equilibrium, through both art and science.
The hard data that science cannot fully depict is invoked through art, mediating abstraction with physical presence and emotional context. The order and logic of science is in the pristine porcelain, the repetition of design, the careful installation of Poag’s work. Art provides in equal measure through the human mark-making, the graceful loops and curves of each thin line, and the visceral medium. Poag balances her interests within her practice – art does not exclude science, nor does science exclude art.
For her artistic endeavors, Poag was honored as an Emerging Artist at NCECA 2016. NCECA is representative of a system; it is composed of a community with similar interests, dedicated to furthering ceramic art. NCECA 2016: Makers, Mentors, and Milestones sought to acknowledge the past in its 50th anniversary, but it is in the next conference, NCECA 2017: Future Flux, that we see the impact represented by Poag’s work.
The emerging artists of NCECA serve to maintain the balance within the community. They push the community forward, to identify the future and keep NCECA contemporary. They seek to unify ceramic art within the whole, equalize medium with medium, and balance art with other fields of study. The homeostasis of NCECA exists in the balance of traditional ceramic practices and contemporary ceramic practices within the community. Makers, Mentors, and Milestones celebrated the past, but Future Flux – along with Joanna Poag and the other Emerging Artists of NCECA 2016 – brings forward contemporary and developing ceramic art.
Joanna Poag grew up primarily in the Rochester, New York area. She received her MFA from the School for American Crafts at RIT and her BS from Roberts Wesleyan College. She is currently assistant professor of art at Roberts Wesleyan College in Rochester, NY.
For me, art making is a high-stakes exploration of knowns and unknowns. In this presentation I will discuss my search for order and structure in a world that often feels chaotic and destructive. I make because I more fully want to understand the mysterious world we live in.