A Nashville Ceramic Artist’s Journey from Academia to Commissions

 In Culture, Feature

Nashville-based ceramicist John Donovan has taught art and ceramics for over two decades—most recently at Middle Tennessee State University—and began the foray into commercial work in 2007, when chef Tandy Wilson of City House—a popular Italian restaurant in Nashville—commissioned a set of original wheel-thrown dishes. It’s one of the many examples of the concrete value of a thriving creative class, which has a unique power to add to the cultural, economic and emotional affect of a city.

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That commission led to additional restaurant commissions and commercial work for the artisan, who assumed the moniker and business name Tenure Ceramics. His penchant for minimal perfection while crafting a finished product that’s still functional yet beautiful has had clients and customers swooning for years now.

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Looking at Donovan’s pieces, it’s immediately obvious that they could only have been created by someone whose comfort level with the material bears that of a master who steps into the role of ceramic artist as a second skin, like an actor who has spent thousands upon thousands of hours and days, culminating in years, working with the material. That’s Donovan: making the utilitarian artful, and adding original, warm touches to pieces like creamer or espresso cups, plates, mugs and commissioned dishes.

Tenure Ceramics
Nashville, Tennessee

All images courtesy of Tenure Ceramics.

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