Randy Johnston—Art Department Chair

Professor of Art (Ceramics & Drawing)

Office: 172 KFA
Phone: 715.425.3266

Randy Johnston has been working in ceramics in his Wisconsin studio for more than thirty eight years. He is recognized internationally as an artist who has pursued functional expression and brought a fresh aesthetic vision to contemporary form, and for his many contributions to the development of wood kiln technology in the United States. He is currently a professor at the University of Wisconsin, River Falls, where he teaches ceramics and drawing. His work is exhibited internationally and he is the recipient of numerous awards including the Bush Artist Fellowship granted by the Bush foundation in Minnesota and two Visual Artist Fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts. Johnston received his MFA from Southern Illinois University and a BFA in Studio Arts from the University of Minnesota where he studied with Warren MacKenzie. He also studied in Japan at the pottery of Shimaoka Tatsuzo who was a student of Shoji Hamada. Johnston has presented hundreds of lectures and guest artist presentations worldwide. He has work in the permanent collections of the Minneapolis Art Institute, Boston Museum of fine Arts, Los Angeles County Museum, Nelson Aitkins Museum, Victoria and Albert and numerous otherInternational Public and Private collections.


• Master of Fine Arts, University of Southern Illinois, Edwardsville
• Bachelor of Arts, University of Minnesota, 1972

Artist Statement

Ceramic art is an experience of intimacy, delight, uncertainty, bewilderment, and revelation. My art is a declaration of my freedom. It argues for a way of responding that is never separated from impulse or instinct. I must continue to develop ways of thinking that challenge conventional cultural notions and in the process express something.

As I work in ceramics, the reality that is the starting point is the choice to investigate the formal range of the vessel (pot) structure in clay, and the belief in the potential that the pieces must entertain, suggest a narrative and allude to things outside of themselves. The largest question is how to invest my art with life, force, dignity, and with a sensibility to the process and material, simple yet ambiguous and universal.

Solo Exhibitions

• Pucker Gallery, Boston MA Catalog
• Dai Ichi/Pahk Gallery, One Person Exhibition, NY, NY
• Dai Ichi Gallery, One Person Exhibition NY, NY
• One-Person, Mendoza Gallery, Caracas Venezuela

Selected Exhibitions

• American Shino, Babcock Gallery, New York, NY, Catalog published by Babcock Gallery
• Color and Fire: Defining Moments in Studio Ceramics 1950-2000, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Los Angeles, CA, Rizzoli Catalog Curated Traveling Exhibition
• Ikebukuro Seibu Gallery Four Person Exhibition, Shimaoka, Mackenzie, Matsuzaki, Johnston; Tokyo, Japan
• Inspired: Warren MacKenzie Legacy, Houston Crafts Center, TX
• Anagama Exhibition Invitational, La Coste Gallery, Concord, MA
• Diverse Domain Invitational, Contemporary North American Ceramic Art NCECA, Taiwan, Catalog
• MacKenzie and Johnston Two Person Exhibition, Phipps Center for the Arts, Hudson, WI
• Container Content Survey of American Studio Ceramic Art, Fuller Museum of Art, Brockton,     MA     


• Bush Artists Fellowship, Bush Foundation, Saint Paul, MN
• Individual Artist Fellowship, Project Grant, Wisconsin Arts Board
• Visual Arts Senior Fellowship, National Endowment for the Arts
• Visual Arts Fellowship, National Endowment for the Arts     
• Apprenticeship Grant, National Endowment for the Arts
• Distinguished Educator Award James Renwick Society, Smithsonian Wash DC


• Boston Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, MA
• Los Angles County Museum, Los Angeles, CA
• Minneapolis Institute of Arts, Minneapolis, MN
• Nelson Atkins Museum of Art, Kansas City, MO
• Newark Museum, Newark NJ
• Racine Art Museum, Racine, WI
• Rhode Island School of Art Museum, RI
• Yale University, New Haven, CT
• Victoria and Albert Museum, London UK
• Wustum Museum of Art, RAM Racine ,WI


American Shino, Catalog Essay, Babcock, 2001
Studio Potter, “Shimaoka Tatsuzo Enlarging Our Concepts”, Vol.29, No. 2, 2001
Different Stokes International Woodfire Catalog 1999, Pub. University of Iowa, School of Art, “Within the Province of Fire”, 2000
Studio Potter, “Mingei Revisited”, 1996
Ceramic Art and Perception, “Rekindling the Fire”, Vol. 16, 1994
Studio Potter, “Japan and America:  Myth and Reality in Ceramics,” Vol. 21, Dec. 1992
Ceramics Monthly, “Portfolio”, October 1991
• Between Two Fires, Essay for American Wood Fired Catalogue, University of Iowa, 1991
Studio Potter, Winter 1989
Studio Potter, “Wood Firing,” Vol.II, No. 1, 1983
Early American Pottery, 1977

International Experiences

• Australian National University, Canberra, Australia, 2006 Cultural Center de Los Condes, Santiago, Stuart School of Art, Mittagong, Australia, Chile     
• Ministry of Culture, Santiago, Chile     
• International Shino Conference, Giroussens, France
• Venezuela, Caracas, Venezuela Anderson Ranch International Workshop, Good Hope, Jamaica, Bergen School of Art, Bergen, Norway
• Oslo School of Art, Oslo, Norway
• Banff School of Fine Arts, Banff, Canada
• Emily Carr School Art Vancouver Canada
• Huara, Huara Studios, Santiago, Chile (Two Weeks)
• Studio Apprenticeship Tatsuzo Shimaoka Mashiko, Japan
• Jamaica Anderson Ranch Field Courses

Contact Us

Art Department
M–F, 8 a.m.–4:30 p.m.
Kleinpell Fine Arts 172
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