Potter Jane Terry: Functional art

Posted: Thursday, August 03, 2000

Form and function: Jane Terry is a painter and a potter, but clay is her favorite medium.

``The joy of working in clay (is that) something someone would consider a piece of art is also functional,'' she said.

Her stoneware plates, bowls, pots and sculptural pieces are in the Juneau Artists Gallery. Her work is marked with a little fish, a kind of signature symbol she incises in the clay.

Centering the clay: Potters often build objects using slabs of clay, or by forming and building up a piece as it sits on a work table. Terry prefers working on the turning potter's wheel because of the meditative quality of that process.

``You have to be able to focus your life in order to actually create the piece from a lump of clay to the finished article. It's a process that demands you pay attention,'' she said. ``Books have been written about the art of centering. You take the modest lump of clay and to begin the process, you have to center it. For a beginner that's the hardest part, to get that lump of clay spinning with you.''

She favors a human-powered kick wheel over an electric wheel.

``You're directly involved. It's more intimate, and you learn a few more lessons,'' she said.

From ink to computers: Terry grew up in California, and started throwing pots in high school. She worked as a graphic artist and as a pasteup artist for a design company. She said she's seen the industry go from ink and wax and galleys to computers. She did computer mapping as an engineering technician, but prefers the old-fashioned, hands-on style of graphic design. She has also taught pottery and ceramics.

She moved to Juneau three years ago, drawn by the natural beauty of the area. She has two grown children.

Firing at Home: She has her kiln and wheel set up in her home, which is a big improvement over working in a studio away from home.

``It's really fun to be able to get up in the morning, go into your studio with your cup of coffee and go to work,'' she said.

Terry is a member of the Juneau Artists Gallery, a local cooperative of about two dozen artists. She works at the gallery part-time, as do all the member-artists. She is also employed at the Juneau-Douglas City Museum, where she works with the administration, volunteers and visitors.

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