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When the Worlds of Myth and Reality Meet
- Joseph Kowalczyk’s Art Creation

By Adelina, 01-06-2020

When myth and reality meet, a world of creativity is opened up for the imagination and the senses to indulge themselves. A connection between the living and the dead, a juxtaposition of black and white, and a contrast of good and evil are fecund grounds for pondering and enticement, unfolding untold stories of alternative worlds. 

"Harboring Hands"

Courtesy: Joseph Kowalczyk

Joseph Kowalczyk (Ko-väl-chick) is definitely a rising star in this realm of artwork. His imaginative motifs combined with detailed black- and-white etchings explore the layers of the human state of mind especially “human shadow”. His creations have won him many awards and recognition throughout the San Francisco Bay Area and beyond. (For example, his recent piece “Wildwood” will be exhibited at the Yingge Ceramics Museum at 2020 Taiwan Ceramics Biennale!)


Courtesy: Joseph Kowalczyk 

Meeting with Joseph at FM Gallery in Oakland, which he recently co-founded, was a delight. He is a testament to the artist who loves what he does with a passion. He started drawing at a very young age and fell in love with sculpturing in high school. After high school, he went on to get technical training and became a computer programmer. However, he never forgot his passion for art -- he eventually decided to quit his good paying computer job and attended a local community college pursuing his artistic training. After building up his portfolio, he was accepted by the California College of the Arts and received a BFA in ceramics in 2006. 

"Tree Study"

Courtesy: Joseph Kowalczyk 


Courtesy: Joseph Kowalczyk

While visiting Prague in the early 2000s, the ancient etching styles from the old books that he discovered there inspired him to create a series of landscapes which are absolutely enchanting and exquisite. Throughout his drawings, I saw entangled tree branches and disproportionate eldritch roots… perhaps an illustration of inner struggle or even a state of the subconscious mind. The white background accentuates the black itching which together create a third dimension that exhibits great vividness and unforgettable impressions. 

"Wheel of Fortune"

Courtesy: Joseph Kowalczyk

Through the years, Joseph’s sculptures have evolved in step with his life experiences from animated figures to symbolic portraits of humans and beasts. Ceramics is his main medium which he combines with other materials such as metal, wood, and fiber to tell his stories. His duelist philosophy is vividly reflected in his sculptures as his way of responding to the world around him. He believes beauty and ugliness coexist and surround us in our daily life, one giving existence to the other. He likes to dig deep into the human soul because sometimes beauty lies under the rugged surface whereas the beauty we see on the surface may not be what lies beneath. Most of the time, his sculptures are a physical manifestation of “human shadow” -- that which is buried in every one’s soul such as anger and jealousy. 

Art Work of Joe Kowalczyk

Courtesy: Joseph Kowalczyk

At the time of this writing he is busy creating several series for the upcoming Ceramics Conference in Davis (CCACA) and the Missouri National Ceramic Exhibition.  With these new series, he will incorporate drawing/paintings onto his ceramic sculpture. Afterwards he will depart from all dark and light and starts incorporating colors into his sculptures and focusing more on making double-headed ocarinas, opening up a new chapter of his art career.

"Darker Days Than Nights"

Courtesy: Joseph Kowalczyk

Besides creating his own art, Joseph teaches as a ceramics instructor at Creative Growth Art Center in Oakland, CA, along with managing his own kiln repair business.  He also runs FM Oakland, a fine arts gallery and community of artist studios within the Oakland Art Murmur district. When asked about the differences between being an artist and an owner of an art gallery, he said the trick is to know when to wear which hat -- the hat of creativity or the hat of marketing and business.

Courtesy: Joseph Kowalczyk

With the explosive growth of art galleries in downtown Oakland, the Oakland Murmur, the First Friday Art Walk, has attracted many visitors. Joseph is glad to be part of this visibility and is pleased to learn how to wear his two hats and make the best out of it.  We wish him great success in his artistry and career.

Joseph's Website