I make 3-dimensional clay collages, metaphors for uncomfortable situations in our world, by fusing ancient icons with pop cartoon characters pulled from the world of Hello Kitty and video games. I enjoy the approachability of clay; the lack of pretense, the tactile and tangible pull upon a viewer. Clay is familiar to the touch and creates an intimate experience. Contrast is in our world and my work. The harsh contrast between toys and weapons, childʼs play and war and our historic quest for empire, between ancient and contemporary “pop”, between serious and frivolous.
My art takes the form of narrative ceramic forms, arriving at a place labeled the realm of the “comic warrior”. Allusions to ancient works like pre-Hispanic clay figures, Japanese Haniwa horses, Chinese terra cotta warriors, and colossal Olmec heads abound. Recently my work has become light-hearted and evokes dolls, toys, cartoon characters and action figures. Primitive firing techniques imbue a faux-authenticity, making “new artifacts.” A narrative thread is present; playful interpretations of warriors, heroes, deities and rivals, all populate a shared invented world. Always at play is humor, to disarm what can be off-putting content related to the human propensity for conflict, violence and self-destruction.
MFA- Stephen F. Austin State University, 1997
MA- Stephen F. Austin State University, 1996
BFA- Loyola University, New Orleans, 1994
John Donovan's work can be found in private and public collections across the US and in Costa Rica. His work was also recently featured in the 3rd World Ceramic Biennale Korea International Competition in 2005.