The 2019 Ann Arbor Art Fairs are coming up this weekend, and, each year, an "emerging artist" is featured at the event. This year, the artist is Jon Van Eck, owner of Van Eck Pottery & Tile Works and an instructor at the Ann Arbor Art Center. Van Eck talks about his artistic journey leading up to this honor with WEMU's David Fair and Arts Alliance CEO Deb Polich in this week's "creative:impact."
Creative industries in Washtenaw County add hundreds of millions of dollars to the local economy. In the weeks and months to come, 89.1 WEMU's David Fair and co-host Deb Polich, the President and CEO of The Arts Alliance, explore the myriad of contributors that make up the creative sector in Washtenaw County.
In the spring of 1982, Jon Van Eck moved to Ann Arbor, Michigan. That summer, while booth sitting at the art fair, he spent hours talking to the potter in the adjoining booth. The artist suggested that Jon take a pottery class from the local YMCA, and, in the fall of that year, Jon was enrolled. The teacher was Bobbi Stevens, a local potter and member of the Ann Arbor Potters Guild. After one year, the Y phased out their class, and Bobbi suggested that Jon sign up for classes at the Potters Guild. In the fall of 1983, Jon became a student at the Guild, where he remained a student until 1987, when he was accepted as an Associate Member of the Guild. In 1989, Jon met his future wife, and, by 1990, his time at the Guild was over.
Between 1990 and 2000, Jon’s life was busy with his 5 kids, work, and school. In 2000, he received a BFA in Ceramics from Eastern Michigan University and immediately jumped into his MFA program at the same institution. As a graduate teaching assistant, Jon taught the “Ceramics for Non-Majors” course for two semesters.
Jon set up a home studio and created Van Eck Pottery & Tile Works, where he continued to throw pots, but from 2009-2018 he took a break from pottery to focus on painting and writing a novel. In 2013, one of his paintings was accepted into a juried show called “Art for God’s Sake” in Troy, MI. He continued to paint until 2015, when he was asked by a Potters Guild member if he would be willing to teach a class on making extruded ceramic dies. Preparing for and teaching this class brought back Jon’s thrill and love for ceramics. He went on to teach another class at the Guild in 2016 and, in June 2018, began teaching at the Ann Arbor Art Center where he continues to teach.
- 1982-83 — Student, Ann Arbor YMCA
- 1983-87 — Student, Ann Arbor Potters Guild
- 1987-90 — Associate Member, Ann Arbor Potters Guild
- 1984-89 — Throwing Demos for Potters Guild, Original Art Fair, South University
- 1998-00 — Studio Assistant for John and Susanna Stephenson
- 2000 — BFA Ceramics, Eastern Michigan University
- 2000 — EMU Student Juried Show, Eagle Crest Conference Resort
- 2001-02 — Graduate Student Teaching Assistant, “Ceramics for Non-Majors,” MFA Program, Eastern Michigan University
- 2005-present — Owner, Van Eck Pottery & Tile Works
- 2011 — “Cabinet of Curiosity Show,” The conference on Creativity, Play and Imagination Across Disciplines., Teachers College, Columbia University
- 2013 — “Art For God’s Sake”, St. Anastasia Roman Catholic Church, Troy, MI
- 2015 — Extrusion Die Workshop, Ann Arbor Potters Guild
- 2016 — Extrusion Class, Ann Arbor Potters Guild
- 2018-Present — Instructor, Ann Arbor Art Center
- Van Eck, “The Odyssey of the Slingshot Man,” 2018, 3 MPH Publishing Co.
- Pancioli, Diana, Clay Bodies and Extrusions, Chapter 3, Page 39, Extruded Ceramics, 2000, Lark Books, a division of Sterling Publication Co.
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