Joel Cherrico

Central Minnesota Arts Board Artist Career Development Program
Credits: Joel Cherrico

My name is Joel Cherrico and I make functional pottery and abstract sculpture. I started a small business after graduating college in 2010, called Cherrico Pottery, LLC. I've been a full time artist for about 2 years now, with a goal of continually making and selling enough pottery to support my career. 

I studied as an Art major for 4 years at the College of St. Benedict/St. John's University. My mentors were professor Sam Johnson and local potter JD Jorgenson. Both JD and Sam studied with Richard Bresnahan at the St. John's Pottery. Here, they learned a Japanese style of pottery making that stemmed from Richard's 4 year apprenticing in Karatsu, Japan. They have passed down a rich tradition of pottery production. The result is a Minnesota style of pottery that is highly in tune with the natural world and the local community.

I am interested in exploring the role of handmade pottery in today's world. Industrialized ceramics has eliminated the need for handmade wares, so the potter has redefined his/her place in society by creating an artistic visual language through production of handmade, utilitarian vessels. In that case, why make utilitarian vessels? I believe the ability to eat and drink from pottery allows viewers to develop relationships through active participation. I address this issue by emphasizing certain handmade qualities of my pottery.

I make pottery for a small coffee shop in St. Joseph, MN called the Local Blend. Customers eat and drink from my pottery everyday. Community members are drawn there for the gourmet coffee, soup and sandwiches. They are then surprised by artwork- their entire meal is served from pottery. All of the pottery is also available for sale. The restaurant uses my pots for free and takes 25% of sales, while paying for any breakage. This innovative business model has been sustainable for about 2 years. This venue is also an ongoing, interactive art installation.

As renowned Minnesota potter, Warren Machenzie, once said, "Unlike a painting or sculpture, this work will be handled and mishandled, washed, and scraped with eating utensils. If a pot cannot withstand such treatment, it fails no matter how exciting it may appear to the eye."

- Warren Mackenzie, "Minnesota Pottery: A Potter's View" Ceramics Monthly, pg. 29, May 1981.