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Thomas Harris

“My pieces develop and evolve in the process of being made. I often start with a simple idea, then as the work progresses it changes as I see or imagine other possibilities.”

Thomas Harris gets inspiration for ceramics from a unique source: scientific research.

“My work is often about evolution, errors in evolution,” said Thomas, who creates by throwing on a wheel, slipcasting and handbuilding. “The University in Bloomington, its research, my work there, have greatly influenced my subject matter.”

Invasive species, such as piranhas and Armadillos in Indiana, trilobites and Axolotols (the larval stage of a salamander) decorate his functional and decorative pieces. Evolution of species interest him as much as the way his work evolves.

“I am interested in surface decoration and its interplay with the form, and it figures prominently in my work,” the Monroe County artist said. “I am interested in how the decoration can serve as purely a design element in functional work, and can assist in expressing meaning in sculpture.”

Thomas has been creating ceramics for 10 years. He studied the art form in college, and then moved on to performance art and dance before taking a long hiatus. About five years ago, he returned to ceramics, his preferred art form. His involvement and output has grown every year.

His pieces “reflect my taste, my aesthetic, my thought processes, my sense of shape and style which is constantly evolving,” Thomas said.” I have tropes I use which become a part of my personal symbology.”
His favorite pieces are ones that make people stop, point and smile – which is also how his business was named and his logo was developed.

ClayOh is a whimsical modification of the “Banana Boat Song,” also known as “Day-Oh,” that Harry Belafonte made popular and especially as it was used in the movie “Beetlejuice,” where the song seems to take control of the dinner guests and make them dance.

“My daughter drew the logo I use (a chicken on a unicycle) when she was in the seventh grade,” Thomas explained. It seemed to fit the Harris family, which raises Sicilian Buttercup chickens. “Hopefully the name and logo reflect my approach to ceramics.”

Like many Indiana Artisans, Thomas sees the organization as a way to build exposure for his art and as a way to be part of a larger community of artisans.

Having my work juried into Indiana Artisan indicates an accomplishment, he noted. “I know and interact with several Indiana Artisans already, and with each exposure, I meet more artisans and ideas are shared. We provide each other with a network, and with information.”