Michael Connelly

Featured Ceramic Artist

10 Questions for Michael Connelly

10 Questions for Michael Connelly


What was the impetus for becoming a ceramic artist?

The dedicated teachers of the ceramic program at Conestoga High School in Berwyn, Pennsylvania (outside of Philadelphia) were the impetus of my development.

Conestoga highlighted an art major program with a ceramics focus. In addition, had two incredibly passionate ceramics teachers, Paul Bernhardt and John Matthews had advanced degrees in ceramics from Alfred University and Tyler School of Art. Paul received the “Excellence in Teaching Award” from NCECA and is the only high school teacher to date to have received this honor.

Because of Paul and John’s unwavering dedication to teaching, the school had a strong track record of producing professional ceramics artists including: Chris Staley, Malcolm Mobutu Smith, Paul Donnelly, David East and Eric Eley to name a few….

What inspires your forms and surfaces?

Repetition, as well as de-railing ideas or forms that becomes stagnant or boring to make. I hope that my work lives somewhere between a rut and groove. Rut is where questions are answered, while groove is needed for repetition purposes.

Who are your favorite artists?

The contrast of the simplicity advocated by the Pennsylvania Quaker builders and the Victorian area builders in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. 

How did your current aesthetic style come to be?

Searching for immediacy in forms, as well as atmosphere when glazing my pottery. 

What is your favorite form to make?

At this moment, pitchers tend to keep me searching for one good pot.

What advice do you have for aspiring artists?

If you receive an opportunity from a colleague, you must pay forward to another in your community.

Do you have other creative outlets/practices? 

Anything physical that helps to exhaust my mind and body is a good thing.

If you weren’t an artist, what would your dream job be?

Learning the drystane (dry-stacking) technique with vernacular stone to make a wall from William Lenker.  

Any favorite meal/food?

Cannot beat a fresh baguette with good oil.  

What has been your most memorable trip/vacation/residency?

A 2017 family focused residency with Jill Allen and our son, Julian, as well as co-teaching with Alleghany Meadows at the Archie Bray Foundation in Helena, Montana. In addition, a 2015 sabbatical trip to China with Robert Sutherland.