CLAY | Functional and sculptural ceramics
Penland Affiliation | Penland Resident Artist 2021-2024, Penland Instructor 2019
Artist Bio | Sean O’Connell is a full-time studio artist creating ceramics and wooden utensils for everyday use and enjoyment. Currently, Sean is a resident artist at Penland School of Craft in the mountains Western North Carolina.
Sean has been involved in the arts and crafts since an early experience apprenticing with silversmiths in his hometown of Fayetteville, AR. He attended college at the Kansas City Art Institute, and upon completing his BFA in sculpture, he became increasingly dedicated to making functional pottery.
Sean pursued his MFA in Ceramics at the School for American Crafts, Rochester Institute of Technology (NY) in 2009. Sean was the 2009 Salad Day’s Artist-in-Residence at Watershed Center for Ceramic Arts in Newcastle, ME and between 2011-2013 completed a two year Fellowship at the Archie Bray Foundation in Helena, MT. In 2013 he was named one of Ceramics Monthly’s Emerging Artists and in 2016 as one of six Emerging Artists at the annual NCECA conference in Kansas City. He has taught at numerous universities, colleges, and art centers, including the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and the Alberta College of Art + Design in Calgary, Canada, and the Red Lodge Clay Center. Sean exhibits his work nationally and regularly gives workshops and lectures throughout North America.
Artist Statement | I believe in the beauty of handmade objects. I also value the constraints of each type media I work with. Creating by hand is a deliberate attempt at slowing down, connecting to something deeper, and taking time to appreciate the pleasure of labor. I use pattern as a means of exploring the nature of abstraction and my forms focus on creating a space for those patterns within the context of utility.
Many of the motifs I use are adapted or interpreted from textiles, paintings, and natural geometry. My formal vocabulary is culled from historic and contemporary ceramic art, traditional design, and my own few novel additions. It is within these chosen limitations that I search for a sense of beauty and self-expression.