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Joe Bova

Biography to Display: 

1941 Born Houston, Texas


1967 BFA University of Houston, Houston, Texas

1969 MA University of New Mexico, Albuquerque, New Mexico


1960-1964 United States Air Force

1969-1971 Assistant Professor of Art, Nichols State University, Thibodaux, Louisiana

1971-1990 Professor of Art (Emeritus), Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge, Louisiana

1990-1997 Director, School of Art, Ohio University, Athens, Ohio

1997-2006 Professor, School of Art, Ohio University, Athens, Ohio

2006-2007 Director, School of Art, Ohio University, Athens, Ohio

2014-2015 Visiting Professor, Florida Atlantic University, Boca Raton, Florida

2016 Visiting Professor, William and Mary University, Williamsburg, Virginia


1996 Artist-in-Residence, Watershed Center for the Ceramic Arts, Edgecombe, Maine

2000 Artist-in-Residence, Rhode Island School of Design, Providence, Rhode Island

2004 Artist-in-Residence Fellowship, NCECA | International Ceramics Studio, Kecskemet, Hungary

2008 Lewallen Resident Artist Fellowship, Santa Fe Preparatory High School, Santa Fe, New Mexico

2016 Class of 1936 Artist in Residence, William and Mary University, Williamsburg, Virginia


Joe Bova is a sculptor known for his figurative sculpture and vessels which incorporate human and animal imagry with anthropomorphic expression. Common animal subjects are birds, dogs, monkeys, pigs, and rabbits. Forms vary from face jugs to jars, sculptures both on plinths and wall hung.

Bova’s developed sculptural works many of which show the seamless integration of the animal forms and vessel. During different periods of his career, work has dealt with social and political topics. Bova utilizes the animal form as ‘symbols, surrogates and totems’.  He is influenced by the ceramics of Mexico and of the Mochica peoples of the northern coast of Peru which is known for jars in the form of the human head with stylized motifs. The Mochia influence is seen some examples of Bova’s work of the late 1970s through the 1980s.  In 2006 Bova, began to create a focus on animal forms and imagery and the teapot form, Bova describes these as ‘the pot incognito’. At times, Bova incorporates the human and animal forms. In certain cases eroticism and humor are used to develop content.

Bova Says of his work, “Using animal imagery was first inspired by early the realities of hunting and fishing, and later by their power as symbols, surrogates and totems.  For much of my career I have been making social and political commentary art, often also involving eroticism. In 2006-07, seeking a respite from the polemical, I returned to the earlier and abiding interest in animal forms and imagery with a new interest in integrating the vessel, namely the teapot, with the figure. The pot incognito, you might say.”

Throughout his career, Bova remained an influential teacher.

Public Collections

Public Collections to Display: 

Arizona State University Art Museum, Tempe, Arizona

Broussard Memorial Art Galleries, Old State Capitol, Baton Rouge, Louisiana

Crocker Art Museum, Sacramento, California

Greenville Museum of Art, Greenville, South Carolina

International Ceramics Studio, Kecskemet, Hungary

Irish National Collection, Dublin, Ireland

Lamar Dodd Art Center, La Grange, Georgia

Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Los Angeles, California

Loyola University, The Loyola Collection, New Orleans, Louisiana

Mint Museum, Charlotte, North Carolina

San Angelo Museum of Art, San Angelo, Texas

St. George Roman Catholic Church, Baton Rouge, Louisiana

State of Louisiana, Baton Rouge, Louisiana

State of Tennessee, Nashville, Tennessee

University of New Mexico, Albuquerque, New Mexico


Bibliography to Display: 

Ceramics Southeast 1984. Visual Arts Gallery, Athens, GA: University of Georgia, 1984.

Levin, Elaine. The History of American Ceramics: From Pipkins and Bean Pots to Contemporary Forms, 1607 to the Present. New York, NY: Harry N. Abrams Publishing, 1988.

Lynn, Martha Drexler. American Studio Ceramics: Innovation and Identity, 1940 to 1979. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2015.

Morgenthal, Deborah, and Suzanne J. E. Tourtillott. The Penland Book of Ceramics: Masterclasses in Ceramic Techniques. New York, NY: Lark Books, 2003.

Tourtillott, Suzanne J. E. 500 Animals in Clay: Contemporary Expressions of the Animal Form. Juried by Joe Bova. New York, NY: Sterling Publishing Company, 2006.



Typical Marks
Materials: Porcelain
Method: Thrown and Altered, Slab-Built, Hand-Built
Surface Technique: Glaze
Robert and Christel Harrison Collection
Photo: TMP
Robert and Christel Harrison Collection
Photo: TMP
Photo: TMP

Citation: "The Marks Project." Last modified August 6, 2023.