Janis Mars Wunderlich is a contemporary ceramic master. She was born in Akron, Ohio and received her BFA from Brigham Young University and an MFA from The Ohio State University. She was profiled previously on The Krakens for her ceramic work. She is spending the summer in Dresden, Germany on a residency studying modern and historic techniques of porcelain figurine manufacturing at the Meissen Factory in Meissen, Germany. Wunderlich lives in Ohio.
Wunderlich writes of her work, “A significant part of my life has been dedicated to the role of nurturer and protector – instinctive duties that are equally sustaining and consuming. I symbolize this dichotomy in my art through the representation of a central mother figure that is often overlaid with layers of small child-like and anthropomorphic figures. The interactions between the mother figure and her living appendages provide social narratives depicting the joys and struggles of family life. The burdens of domestic duties and parental responsibilities result in satisfying pleasure and excruciating pain, both of which ultimately strengthen our character. “
How did your career develop? What worked and what didn’t? What is your work like today? I went to graduate school when I only had one child, because I knew life was not likely going to get easier. I wanted to get as much education in ceramics as I could, as there is so much technical and material information to learn in the field! After grad school, I voraciously sought after any opportunity to teach and exhibit my art, filling every spare minute of my time with art. For 25 years, I have balanced full-time art making with being a full-time mother. I found the best way to balance teaching was to seek short-term teaching opportunities, such as visiting artist/ lecturer events, or to teach short-term workshops at art schools. I had my studio at home so I could work on art while taking care of meals, laundry, and all of the crazy events of daily life. My kids would work on their own projects along side me in the studio. They grew up doing art regularly in their corner of my studio.
As my kids have gotten older, I am able now to teach more, and recently took over the Ceramics area at a university in Ohio. The only unfortunate part of all of this is that despite my 20 years of teaching as a visiting artist, it’s not considered ‘official’ college teaching experience. So, as I go back in to teaching at the university level, I am starting from scratch as an adjunct instructor. I am in a transitional period in my art (and in my personal life!) where I am experimenting, pushing boundaries, and forcing myself to get uncomfortable in the art making process. I am forcing myself to draw and paint, and explore mixed media. We will see where I end up!