UMass Dartmouth faculty James Lawton
JAMES LAWTON: Biography
James Lawton earned his Bachelors degree in Constructive Design at Florida State University, Tallahassee in 1976, and MFA in Ceramics at Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge in 1980. In 1984 and in 1986, Lawton was awarded the National Endowment Visual Arts Fellowship, and the South Carolina Artist Fellowship Grant in 1990. Lawton joined the Artisanry faculty at UMass Dartmouth in 1998, where he is currently Professor of Ceramics. He was elected to the International Academy of Ceramics in 2011.
Like the tailor, the approach I take in making pots is to configure enclosures- to contain as well as to reveal within the work the eccentric shape of human life. It's my view that meaning is held on both sides of the clay fabric: an inner life of use and the outer one of appearance. It is not incongruent to me that clay and carnal bodies share certain elemental connections: pottery possessing the ability to describe the human condition while simultaneously being a part of it. Modernism defined use and meaning as separate and mutually unjustified, and it is this disparity which makes the potters' work at this juncture in history most compelling to me.
At one time, garments found their way onto the work. In the form of paintings, the clothes seemed full of implied presence as they advanced across the surfaces exactly as devoid of body as the pots' physical ability to function. My pots had therefore become image only, objects that had achieved full autonomous status. A choice became clear to me, follow the vessel image to the wall or do the audacious: accept the interior as relevant! At present, the image itself has become the functioning vessel, forms drawn from the alphabet or my handwriting, functioning as funnels, teapots, melita filters, etc., suspended inside a cage-like apparitions.