Amelia Johannsen’s artistic journey unveils the profound connections she has forged between clay, nature, and the human experience. As an intuitive artist pushing the boundaries of her creativity with clay, Amelia maintains a grounded studio practice based on functionality and craft. From her earliest encounters with clay as a child, ceramics became an integral part of Amelia’s life, a creative pursuit she consistently returned to, even while exploring more conventional career paths.
Originally from Portland, OR, Amelia blends her Pacific Northwest roots with the vibrant and eclectic influences of Barcelona, Spain where she lives and works since 2005. Her artwork celebrates the vitality and fluidity of feminine energy, honoring the graceful curves of female forms and incorporating symbols of fertility. Additionally, her deep appreciation for the natural world shines through her creations.
Transitioning to a professional career in the arts in 2017, Amelia’s work has garnered attention through exhibitions in Barcelona, as well as international recognition in press features and online showcases. Her artistic journey continues to evolve as she explores the limitless possibilities of clay, forging a unique and compelling path in the world of ceramics.
Artrepreneur: What inspired you to become a sculptor/3D artist?
Amelia Johannsen: I discovered my passion for working with clay at a young age. The joy I found in working on the wheel has remained with me to this day. However, I realized early on that handbuilding and sculpting allowed my creativity to bloom and diversify. In fact, it’s often easier for me to get into the flow state (where I completely lose track of time) when I’m sculpting.
I didn’t pursue formal art education or plan for ceramics to become my career. I simply followed my heart and did what brought me joy. Now, as a professional artist, I continue to switch between creating functional pieces on the wheel and exploring sculptural forms. Moving forward, I hope to devote even more time to the latter, for the simple reason that it inspires me and brings me immense fulfillment.
ATP: How would you describe your artistic style or approach?
AJ: My artistic style is heavily influenced by the time and place where I grew up. Portland, Oregon is very green (both with nature and parks as well as being environmentally conscious). It has an easy-going, liberal culture and while I was coming of age in the late 1980’s and 90’s there was a booming grunge scene. A combination of all of these elements have influenced my style, which can be described as having raw and rough textures, curvy and organic lines, with green and coastal color schemes.
This environment also impacted what I want to communicate with my art. I want to emphasize the idea of freedom and of breaking the rules by following one’s inner voice. Values such as mindfulness, environmentalism, feminism, and compassion for all beings are at the heart of my creative expression.
ATP: How do you deal with creative blocks or challenges during the sculpting/3D art process?
AJ:The most significant obstacles arise from the nature of clay itself. Those familiar with working with clay understand that it doesn’t always conform to our desires. Clay artists dedicate years to refining our skills, developing muscle memory, and enhancing our techniques. Yet, despite the countless hours and efforts invested in creating well-crafted art, there are always elements that lie beyond our control. As clay artists, we must humbly acknowledge the role of alchemy and learn to embrace the unknown.
Challenges may arise during the creation process, such as cracks or collapses, or more commonly during the firing stage, when the kiln’s alchemical transformations occur beyond our influence. The ways in which clay manifests its character and quirkiness are limitless, and occasionally, unexpected events like explosions happen. It can be devastating to see hours, even weeks of labor vanish in an instant, but these experiences are an integral part of working with clay and its inherent process.
ATP: What do you hope viewers take away from your sculptures/3D art?
AJ: I hope that my artwork evokes a sense of calm and warmth; that it prompts curiosity and a desire for exploration. Art can transport viewers to a realm of memories and sensations, where they can experience a profound sense of calm and inner peace. I hope to offer a gentle reminder of the beauty found in nature and the serenity it can bring to our lives.
On occasions I aim to elicit a range of emotions and instigate critical reflection on themes such as consumerism, climate change or women’s rights. I want viewers to confront societal issues, challenge the status quo, and strive for positive change. Ultimately, I hope some pieces of my art become a catalyst for transformation.
ATP: How do you approach the initial stages of a new sculpture? What inspires your creative process?
AJ: I’m always incubating anywhere from 5-10 different artistic ideas. Because I work on a lot of commissions, I only get the chance to indulge in creative experimentation on a small portion of those ideas. But that’s the most delightful bit for me!
My artistic process flows intuitively, guided by playful exploration. I love to work with different kinds of clay, which often sparks ideas influenced by the material itself. Clay is tactile and versatile. Clay’s responsiveness to touch and manipulation enables me to explore a wide range of artistic styles and techniques, from smooth and refined to rough and textured. Additionally, the process of working with clay can be both meditative and engaging, as I immerse myself in the physicality of shaping and molding the material.
I don’t engage in extensive sketching, planning, or testing. When I choose to pursue an idea, I instinctively reach for the clay and begin creating. It’s as if the clay itself triggers a sense of familiarity, beckoning to be reshaped and reimagined. Sometimes, a specific glaze color sparks a memory, igniting inspiration for a fresh and unique piece.
To view more of Amelia’s work please visit her Artrepreneur profile.