Hi, I'm Jess Brooks, the artist behind Claybrook Pottery. Pottery has been a huge passion of mine since I was young, but I didn't really start pursuing it until after college. I graduated from the Rhode Island School of Design, where I majored in animation. In my early 20s, though, I had a detached retina, which IS as horrible as it sounds. I started losing my eyesight in my right eye, and after having a few surgeries to fix the problem (including a scleral buckle; look it up if you're not squeamish!) I learned that my loss of sight was permanent. That adjustment was a really low time for me, especially as a visual artist. Animation is all about detailed work and computer use, which was nearly impossible for me to focus on.
My relationship to vision brought me back to pottery. One of the things I've always appreciated about ceramics is it's tactile properties, and as I was adjusting to being partially blind, that tangibility became even more important to me. Being able to create, based on touch instead of sight was absolutely necessary. That was the reason I gave myself permission to follow my pottery passion, and I'm so glad I did.
Flash forward to the present, and I'm thankful to say that my brain does a pretty good job of tuning out my blind spot. Every once in a while it presents itself to me, but overall, my loss of vision doesn't affect my day to day life. It does still play a part in my pottery, though. I'm excited to create designs that are visually appealing, but one of my biggest motivators is how my pottery feels. The biggest compliment someone can give me is telling me that my pottery is comfortable in their hands. Pick up one of my mugs and you'll never want to put it down.
Visually speaking, my pottery is known for its playful designs, high contrast, and bright colors. Most of my work is functional, with the purpose of being used and enjoyed on a daily basis, but I also enjoy making decorative pottery, whose only function is to brighten up your space and enhance your mood.
All of my creations come out of my studio in Richmond, Virginia. It's a private studio, but I love having guests, so if you're in the area, reach out to set up an appointment to come by. I'd love to meet you and show you what I've been working on!