J Doug Knotts
Associate Professor of Art
Director of Visual Art
Area: Ceramics and Sculpture
Mr. Knotts’ experience includes ten years as owner of Glenlaurel Studio, Spruce Pine, NC as well as teaching for Charlotte Mecklenburg School System, University of North Carolina Charlotte, and Gaston College, Dallas, NC.
Mr. Knotts continues an active studio practice. He is currently represented by galleries in Seagrove, Blowing Rock, and Spruce Pine, NC. His work has been exhibited in many nationally juried exhibits where he has been awarded for both painting and ceramic pieces. His work is included in several international museum and university collections, including the Roger D. Corsaw Collection of Functional Ceramics at Alfred University, Alfred, NY.
MFA, East Carolina University
BS, Auburn University
BFA, Western Carolina University
Almost all my work in pottery or painting is narrative. People in the South are great storytellers; my family fits well within that tradition. So while I am concerned about the formal aspects of my work, the reason that I make artwork at all is the need to tell stories.
My grandfather was a repairman, painter, and carpenter for a hospital in Charlotte, NC. He was not a man who could sit still for very long; if you went fishing with him, he walked, spending most of the time gathering live bait. My brothers and I spent many days of summer in the woods and fields with our grandfather. But those are several more stories that I will not tell here. Often he carried a little sketch notebook with him and made field studies of birds and plants. Back home he would carve, usually out of white pine, common birds that you would see in the woods and fields. These were usually about hand size and as realistically carved and painted as he could make them. Sometime he would make Joseph Cornell type of treasure boxes with birds and tree limbs, maybe a found bird’s nest, or a found blue jay feather, which would make its way into the box. But most of the time he made handsome beautifully carved and painted birds as gifts for the sick children in the hospital.
My interest in birds as works of art, as gifts of joy, stems from these memories. As I make the birds for pots today, I am not trying to realistically create any particular type of bird. My goal is to capture that intense feeling of awareness, of alertness that is defined in the quick running movement, the turn of the head, the stance and pose of the birds that we see each day. My reward, as always, in turning my artistic attention to a subject is to be able to observe and learn.
The bird pots evolved from an interest in and research into Catawba Valley and Seagrove North Carolina folk pottery traditions and firing methods. I had the o-opportunity to fire the Hart Squire Groundhog Kiln for the Hart Square Festival for over nine years. I used the opportunity to involve student potters and professors from Gaston College, University of North Carolina Charlotte, and Gardner-Webb University in the firing and in learning about the traditions.
Involvement in the Hart Squire festival has led to research into the local pottery history and productions methods. A long time interest and involvement with Seagrove potters and the traditions that they have kept alive offered a point of comparison. In both of these areas I have been fortunate to work with persons within the traditions, with Ben Owen III in Seagrove, whom I have known as a friend and colleague for over twenty years, and with potter Kim Ellington who schooled me in firing the Hart Square groundhog and who has a wealth of knowledge about Catawba Valley traditions.