Josh Herman

U.S.A. (1968)

Born in New York City, ceramicist Josh Herman found his aesthetic in West Coast midcentury form while at school at Pitzer College, outside Los Angeles. Studying under artist Paul Soldner – who is credited with inventing American-style raku, a traditional form of Japanese pottery that is used to create vessels for tea ceremonies – Herman learned to integrate Eastern philosophy with Western design elements.

Herman continued to allow a deep Eastern influence to infuse his work. After graduating, he took a break from ceramics for six years while he embarked on a path of personal growth that included work in Hakomi. A present-centered psychotherapeutic modality, Hakomi integrates Eastern practices of spiritual mindfulness with Western concepts of psychic health. This practice, a cultivation of moment-to-moment awareness, empowered Herman’s work to take off in previously undreamed-of directions.

Herman took this process-oriented approach and returned to ceramics with renewed vitality. His career exploded in 2007 after his pieces were selected for the museum store of the Orange County Museum of Art, alongside the renowned Birth of the Cool exhibit. Using improvisational jazz, volcanoes and fractals as just a few of his inspirations, Herman created pieces that are either wheel thrown or built using a coiling method. It took him many years to develop his proprietary “volcanic” glazing process, which requires sometimes more than 100 iterations of a single color before he’s satisfied. Color, texture, shine and crater size are just a few parts of the formula to create a unique Josh Herman piece.

Herman’s psycho-spiritual therapeutic process has deeply informed his creative process: “As soon as I start making something, anything, I can look at what I’ve done and that clay that sits before me can inform where I’m going to go next,” he told the San Diego Home/Garden Lifestyles in December 2008. “So the final piece ends up being something that was not anything I could have imagined ahead of time. And to me, that’s exciting…. You get this piece of art or sculpture, and it’s sort of bigger than you.”

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