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Sarah Knoll's Profile

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I earned my BA in Visual Art with an emphasis in graphic design and first worked in this field. When my husband left his career as a computer programmer to become a minister, I also left my job in the advertising business. At this time I continued to do some freelance work, and explored other artistic outlets as we moved from place to place around Maryland, from fine art in Forest Hill to liturgical dance in Hagerstown.

In the summers of 1998 and 2000 I volunteered as a square supervisor at the archaeological dig of Tall al Umayri near Amman, Jordan. There, I first got a true sense of how pottery has been part of civilization for millennia, filling a practical need, yet also an artistic one. In 2005, I enrolled in the Building Preservation and Restoration program at Harford Community College intending to continue working with historical structures on a more local level. Before…

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  • Female
  • Joined December 13, 2010

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About

I earned my BA in Visual Art with an emphasis in graphic design and first worked in this field. When my husband left his career as a computer programmer to become a minister, I also left my job in the advertising business. At this time I continued to do some freelance work, and explored other artistic outlets as we moved from place to place around Maryland, from fine art in Forest Hill to liturgical dance in Hagerstown.

In the summers of 1998 and 2000 I volunteered as a square supervisor at the archaeological dig of Tall al Umayri near Amman, Jordan. There, I first got a true sense of how pottery has been part of civilization for millennia, filling a practical need, yet also an artistic one. In 2005, I enrolled in the Building Preservation and Restoration program at Harford Community College intending to continue working with historical structures on a more local level. Before I finished the courses, the program was cancelled, but it was during the last semester of BPR classes that I took my first ceramics class, and returned to my artistic roots.

Much of my excitement about working in clay comes from the fact that I can create functional art. Beauty should be part of our everyday lives, not just something set apart in museums. To do this, I focus on functional pottery, but make it a little something more than a simple mug or bowl. The bowl becomes a yarn bowl; instead of a vase, a tulipiere. I enjoy cerating something useful, beautiful, and more than what you could buy at a big box store.

I then add decorative details to further enhance the piece rather than just adding to it. The birds on my yarn bowls, for example, do not just sit on the edge, but their long tail feathers becomes the line along which you draw your yarn out of the bowl. I have chosen to carve scenes into my pieces instead of using applique, so they are truly part of the pot‘s structure. Carving and sculpting on my pieces allows me to create my own personal art while still keeping the form functional.

Using classical shapes connects me to the long history of potters; all the way back to the Bronze Age craftsmen of Umayri. The ancient history of ceramic art inspires me. In Jordan, I uncovered pieces of pottery made 4,000 years ago, and felt a connection to the creators. With ceramic art, I can also connect our busy, technical work to the basic humanity that we share. People of today are not so very different from the people of an ancient city. Beyond the basic needs of food and shelter, there is a need for beauty, for community, for stories that bring these communities together.

I draw on that inspiration when creating my art. My village pottery, for instance, invokes to me the small town sense of community, the ideals of home and comfort. Adding water to the scene can suggest a happy beachside vacation. When I add birds, flowers, and vines to a pot I am reminding us of our connection to nature, and remembering the pleasure of a walk in the woods. While I continue to explore different ceramic techniques, I continue to draw inspiration from images that tell stories and connect people.

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