Tom Jenssen Exhibit

From Earth to Stone


until March 30


February 2 from 5:00 to 7:00 p.m.

As a retiree, I returned to an undergraduate interest in ceramics. To my art, I carry elements of my career in biology to many of my ceramic expressions. My creations are 3D, ceramic, thrown pieces to which I use color patterns of glazes, melted glass, painted imagery, and found items to offer the viewer a sense of wonder.” -Tom Jenssen, VT Associate Professor Emeritus.

Many of the pieces in Jenssen’s new exhibit have lids made form items he scavenged from thrift shops or ‘stole’ from his wife Kitty’s Japanese porcelain collection.  The animals depicted in Jenssen’s ceramic pieces range from the aquatic to the amphibious to the terrestrial.  Examples include a great white shark, sea turtle, octopus, rhinoceros, giraffe, and green lizards, an animal he knows especially well. One piece even features a mermaid.  In each case, animal behavior and habitat are depicted with accuracy (well, except for the mermaid) and detail.


Take a close look at the black panther piece.  The panthers running around the base of the jar have the same musculature as the one on the lid, an object found in a tractor store.  Getting the dark color of the animal just right took many layers of black clay applied to the surface.  The panther images had to be carefully scratched into the surface of the clay.  This level of detail is unusual in ceramic art.  Notice, too, that the panther on the lid is not just standing there.  He has a foot resting on a log and seems to be standing in shallow water.  Panthers often live in swamps, so the panther is in his natural habitat.  He is at home.  The log was formed from red and black clay, and the water is made from glass.  An extruding tool was used to make the vines.  Clay comes in three colors: white, red, and black.  If a habitat calls for rocks, Jenssen makes them by layering red and black clay.  Significant care is seen in the multiple images of featured animals that encircle each of these pots. To produce the images, a slurry of iron oxides, a very fine paint brush, and a whole lot of patience were needed.

Phone: 540 961-3246