With her hand-built ceramic sculptures, Georgia’s Jenifer Thoem can take a wall from wanting to wow.
The artist: The Georgia native grew up on a farm in Rome, GA, where her desire to create and build things began and was encouraged by her parents.
At Georgia Southern University, she discovered clay and earned a BFA with a concentration in ceramics. After college, Thoem sold her work for years on the fine art circuit, taking breaks when her three children were little.
In addition to exhibiting at art shows, Thoem owned ceramic studios and taught clay classes and workshops in Atlanta, Richmond and Chicago. She moved back to her hometown in 2017.
The studio: Thoem shares a studio on the property of her country home with six cats, two dogs and some chickens.
The art & materials: Framed and unframed ceramic wall installation pieces using high-fire stoneware and porcelain clays.
– Each piece is hand built without the use of molds.
– Pieces are kiln-fired multiple times using stains and glazes on high-textured surfaces.
– Texture on pieces is made by using stamps that Thoem makes from the soles of her children’s shoes.
– A permanently attached wire on the back of each piece makes for easy installation.
What’s popular: Birds. Choose from a group of three ($150) or a stunning flock of 50 ($2,500), though homeowners, designers and architects often order custom pieces of 50 or more. A pre-Covid custom set sold for $16,000.
Other favorites: The “Connections Series” ($60 each, pictured at right). Each six-inch-by-six-inch wooden shadowbox frame contains a single, common object made of high-fire stoneware clay. Choose from among 80 objects, which are familiar and relatable, including a golf ball, bee, tooth, hammer, baseball glove and stethoscope.
Fun and special requests:
- Recently sold a 100-bird installation for the Walt Disney World Resort’s Swan Reserve. The installation is in the lobby behind the reservation desk.
- Just flew to Denver and re-installed a 500-piece nose installation that she had sold at the Cherry Creek Arts Festival about six years ago. The client moved into a new home and had taken their noses with them. Thoem redesigned and installed the noses in the new
Big break: Winning Best of Show in 2019 at the Philadelphia Museum of Art Contemporary Craft Show was pretty sweet.
“I got a lot of business from that publicity and recognition,” said Thoem. “I’ve been really lucky in that each large installation that I’ve done has led to another.”
What’s new: Designs, such as pea pods and chili peppers, and maybe some color … maybe not.
What’s next: Atlanta Dogwood Festival, April 8-10.
Where to buy:
– Facebook: Jenifer Lowe Thoem
– Instagram: @jeniferthoem