Mr. Barnard has glimpsed the true essence of pottery, and thus has entered deeply the philosophical world. This understanding can be seen in his quiet intensity. I feel that even Japanese would profit by the deep suggestions in his recent work which is highly unusual in that he is applying concepts evolved in modern ceramics to his work and congealing them into the unchanging tradition of Japanese pottery.
- Kazuo Yagi, Chairman, Ceramics Department, Kyoto City University of Fine Arts, 1978
Good pottery ennobles us. It reminds us of how to conduct our lives by reflecting our frailties and strengths and offering us a riddle (koan) about how those two contradictory elements might be resolved to create a powerful human being/pot. Good pottery must therefore have opposing elements--just as human beings have in their own make-up and then seek a resolution to these contradictions. That is what makes it compelling...
I have always been interested in how pottery makes us feel. It is a type of expression, a genre that has its’ own vocabulary, while it is like sculpture, it is not sculpture. We use pottery. It engages all of our senses. It is a visual language that addresses the human condition from a quite different perspective. It makes the viewer/user, for example, part of the aesthetic equation, by challenging them to physically participate, through use, in the creative process. My ultimate goal has never been to make likable objects but rather to make compelling objects that cause one to rethink and expand narrow and rigid notions about beauty.
Rob Barnard (b.1949, Lexington, Kentucky). After serving in Vietnam with the United States Marine Corps, Barnard began his study of pottery at the University of Kentucky in 1971. In 1974 he accepted as a research student at Kyoto University of Fine Arts in Kyoto, Japan where he studied under the late Kazuo Yagi for five years. While living in Shigiraki he was accepted in numerous juried exhibitions and had five solo exhibitions in Tokyo, Kyoto, Nagoya, Otsu, and Shigaraki. After his return to the United States in 1979, he was awarded a National Endowments for the Arts Fellowship to build a wood-fired kiln and studio in Timberville, VA where he continues to make art and write. In 1990 Rob Barnard was awarded a second NEA Fellowship. Barnard has returned to Japan seven times for solo exhibitions in Tokyo, Nagoya, and Osaka and include Yamaki Gallery, Tokyo, Meitetsu Department Store, Nagoya, Meitetsu Department Store, Nagoya. In 2000, Barnard was selected for a solo exhibition at Museum Jan van der Togt, Amstelveen during the time of the Ceramics Millenium in Amsterdam, Netherlands. Barnard has had over 30 solo exhibits in the US including Anton Gallery, Japan American Society, Sasakawa Peace Foundation, The Japan Information and Cultural Center in Washington, DC; Genovese/Sullivan, Boston, MA, Dai Ichi Gallery, Nancy Margolis Gallery, New York; Longwood Center for the Visual Arts, Farmville, VA, and Pro-Art, St. Louis, Missouri. He continues to exhibit in Great Britain and Japan and is currently represented by Green Chalk Contemporary in the US. Barnard has work in the collections of the Smithsonian Museum of American Art Renwick Gallery, Washington, DC, the American Craft Museum, NY, the Everson Museum, NY, Arizona State Univeristy Museum, AZ, the Mint Museum, SC, and The Crocker Museum, CA. In 2013, the Crocker Museum received The Rossalyn and Robert Wood Collection which includes over 30 pieces of his work collected over a period of 30 years. Barnard was also honored by The Crocker Museum with a solo exhibition. Barnard has written on the crafts since the early '80s for publications as The Studio Potter, American Craft, Ceramics Monthly, The New Art Examiner, Ceramics: Art & Perception and Keramic Magazine.