Jennifer Mecca spent many childhood weekends observing and participating in the traditions of her paternal Italian-American family. Among the most prevalent was the preparation of elaborate meals. She observed how tableware was as important as the planning, preparation and enjoyment of a meal. This served as the foundation for her interest in utilitarian pottery and her love of creating elaborate surfaces and forms.
Born in upstate New York, Jennifer moved to South Carolina in her late teens. She earned her BFA in Interior Design from Virginia Commonwealth University then completed a BFA and MFA in Ceramics at East Carolina University. She lives in Gastonia, NC working as a full time studio potter and teaches classes and workshops part time.
How did you get started in clay?
I worked at a great craft gallery outside of Raleigh; I was the manager there and they had studios with working potters. I managed that gallery for a few years and one day one of the potters said, “Why don’t you come out and try to throw a pot today?”
He worked with porcelain, which is hard to throw, but I picked it up pretty quickly and started taking classes at NC Craft Center and then went back to East Carolina to get a second art degree in ceramics.
What five words best describe your work?
Whimsical, feminine, colorful, functional, playful.
What is a typical day like in your studio?
I don’t really have a typical day in my studio because I juggle a lot of roles in my life. I teach art part time at my children’s school and I have three children.
I do try to get out to my studio every evening, but parenthood gets in the way of that sometimes — or I’m just beat from teaching all day. I do try to get in my studio on my days off and on the weekends but I have learned over time that the studio comes second to my family. So for the last 15 years, no day is ever typical for this working mom.
Who or what is your biggest artistic influence?
Ever since grad school, I have looked at a lot of fabric, wallpaper and fabric designs. My first art degree is in design, so I’m very drawn to patterns, color, shapes and textures.
I love period pieces from the late 1800s to about 1950 and look at books with ceramicware, glassware, furniture and clothing to get ideas for my pieces.
What do you listen to while you work?
For entertainment in my studio, I tend to change things from day to day. I have found that on the weekdays, I listen to NPR a lot. On the weekends, I try to find some music to get me motivated on either Pandora or Spotify.
I used to listen to discs a lot, but now that there are so many music apps on my phone, I’ve sort of forgotten about my CDs! Every once in a while I go back through them and find a really good album that I love and it really gets me in the zone to work. I also admit that at night, when I’m usually doing my decorating, I watch TV.
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