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WV Artist on Display: Sean O’Connell, Ceramic Artist

Meet Sean O’Connell, a ceramic artist from upstate New York, and Greenbrier County resident since 2013. From ’95-’03, Sean studied all aspects of ceramic arts with Professor Regis Brodie at Skidmore College in Saratoga Springs, NY. He is passionate about his craft and has done exhibitions in several museums and art centers in New York and Massachusetts, including the Ginofor Gallery in Cambridge and Tang Museum in Saratoga Springs. Today, Sean teaches ceramic art classes at Carnegie Hall in Lewisburg. His students learn about hand-building and throwing. He also maintains a working studio at Lee Street Studios in Lewisburg. Lee Street is a 1920’s school building that houses artists working in a variety of disciples. Sean also exhibits his work at Lee Street and the Wandering Bird Gallery in downtown Lewisburg. Learn more about Sean with our Q&A: 

How do you describe your palette?

I create a wide variety of objects both sculptural and functional. From coffee cups to large-scale mixed media pieces that employ found, scrounged, and salvaged elements. Still, the core of my work remains solidly in the tradition of ceramics.

Clay is my medium. I love the way it moves under the pressure of my hands, and the challenges it presents when using it to realize my ideas. Wielding this earth-based material, I create a palette of form and texture that is made permanent by the fire, and colored by the metals that are also from the earth. I never tire of the variations that clay inspires.

What is your greatest accomplishment?

I think my greatest accomplishment is keeping an open mind, which is not always easy in the world today.

What obstacles do you need to overcome to find your creative space/muse?

Obstacles to creativity are typically self induced and fear based. I find if I make the work first, and think about it after, that I have a better chance of staying true to myself and producing work with integrity a unique voice.

How do you find your inspiration?

Inspiration is everywhere. Just look around on life’s journey; nature, art, people, history, environment, they all inspire. It’s our personal reaction to the experience. Sometimes, simply a word or shape can trigger an emotion that I feel needs to be recorded.

What is your favorite piece(s) you’ve made and why?

My work is personal so it’s difficult to name a favorite piece, but I’ll say “Couple” from a series of expressionistic figures I created some years ago. I made that particular piece for my partner Janine (My Dog & I columnist, see page 7), however, I think the sentiment of connection is universal.

How can our readers purchase your pieces?

My work can be purchased at the Lee Street Studios Gallery show, or Wandering Bird Gallery, both in Lewisburg. My Smaller functional pieces can be obtained at Plants Etc. and visitors are always welcome at my Lee St. studio #10.

What is the best way for our readers to contact you?

Best contact is e-mail: seanoco nell54@gmail.com

-HashtagWV #108. December 2018

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