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John H. Stephenson

Biography to Display: 

1929 Born Waterloo, Iowa

2015 Died Ann Arbor, Michigan


1952 BA Ed., University of Northern Iowa, Cedar Falls, Iowa

1958 MFA Cranbrook Academy of Art, Bloomfield Hills, Michigan


1991-1993 Interim Dean, School of Art, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Michigan

1959-1995 Professor of Art, School of Art, University of Michigan

1995— Catherine B. Heller Distinguished Professor Emeritus, University of Michigan


John Stephenson’s ceramic sculptures explore a number of themes among them are machines, tools, the sea, twisted forms, and objects from a surreal landscape.

Each of Stephenson's sculptures is built using stoneware clay, occasionally with the assistance of a metal armature. The highly textured surfaces are glazed with broad brush strokes reminiscent of the abstract expressionist painting style.

Public Collections

Public Collections to Display: 

Benaki Museum, Athens, Greece

Cranbrook Museum of Art, Bloomfield Hills, Michigan

Detroit Institute of Arts, Detroit, Michigan

Eastern Michigan University, Ypsilanti, Michigan

Faenza International Museum of Ceramics, Faenza, Italy

Flint Institute of Arts, Flint, Michigan

Icheon World Ceramic Center, Gyeonggi-do, South Korea       

International Ceramic Center, Musee Ariana, Geneva, Switzerland

Keramion Museum, Frechen, Germany

Kresge Art Museum, East Lansing, Michigan

Museum of Arts and Design, New York, New York

Ohio State University, Columbus, Ohio

Parrish Art Museum, Water Mill, New York

Portland Museum of Art, Portland, Oregon

Racine Art Museum, Racine, Wisconsin

Museum of Decorative Arts in Prague, Praha, Czech Republic

Schein-Joseph International Museum of Ceramic Arts, Alfred University, Alfred, New York




Bibliography to Display: 

Clark, Garth.  American Ceramics, 1876 to the Present. New York, NY:  Abbeville Press Publishers, 1978.

Conrad, John. Contemporary Ceramic Techniques. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall, Inc., 1979.

Crowell, Susan "Together in Clay" Ceramics Art and Perception, no. 17 (1994).

Donhauser, Paul S. History of American Ceramics, The Studio Potter.  Dubuque, IA, Kendall Hunt Publishing Co., 1978.

Eidlelberg, Martin and others, Design In America, The Cranbrook Vision 1925-1950. New York, NY, Harry N. Abrams, Inc., 1983.

Frith, Donald E. Mold Making for Ceramics. Radnor, PA: Chilton Book Company, 1985.

Glick, John. "Twelve Potters from Detroit." Studio Potter (Winter 1973).

Hopper, Robin. Making Marks. Iola, WI: Krause Publications 2004.

John Stephenson: After the Fire, A Retrospective, Ann Arbor, MI: University of Michigan Museum of Art and the University of Michigan School of Art and Design, 1995.

Keller, Martha. "John Stephenson." American Ceramics (Fall 1983)

Nelson, Glenn C. Ceramics, A Potter's Handbook. Fifth Edition. New York, NY: Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1984.

Nordness, Lee. Objects: USA. New York, NY: Viking Press, 1970.

Pasfield, Veronica. "Studio Visit," Detroit Monthly (March 1992)

Perry, Barbara. American Ceramics, the Collection of the Everson Museum of Art. Syracuse, NY: Everson Museum of Art and Rizzoli International Publications, 1989.

Perryman, Jane. Smoke Fired Pottery. London, England: A & C Black Publishers Limited, 1995.

Peterson, Susan. The Craft and Art of Clay. Prentice Hall, Englewood Cliffs, NJ, 1992, 1995, 2000

_______________. Contemporary Ceramics, New York, NY: Watson-Guptill, 2000.

Rhodes, Daniel. Clay and Glazes for the Potter. Radnor, PA: Chilton Book Company, 1973.

Schwartz, F.R. "Five Potters, Albion College." Craft Horizon, (January 1968)

Slowinski, Dolores. "John and Susanne Stephenson." Ceramics Monthly, (September 1989).

Stephenson, John. "Form and Color - A True Symbiotic Relationship." Studio Potter (June 1983).

_______. "Weightless Form: John Stephenson." Ceramics Monthly (Sept 1983).

_______. "Potters on Color." Studio Potter (Spring 1986).

_______. "National endowment for the Arts Visual Artists Fellowships 1986." American Craft (1986).

_______. "Art, Money and the NEA." Ceramics Monthly (Feb 1987).

_______. "Perception/ Inner and Outer Vision.” Studio Potter (December 1988).

_______. "Time, Place and a Taste of Clay." Studio Potter (December 1993).

________. "Simple Pleasures," Ceramics; Art and Perception, no. 43 (2001).

_________. "Lou Xiaoping, Work on the Scholar's Desk" Ceramics Art and Perception, no 47 (1992)

Zakin, Richard. Ceramics, Mastering the Craft, Radnor, PA: Chilton Book Company, 1990.

______________. Electric Kiln Ceramics, Second Edition. Radnor, PA: Chilton Book Co., 1994.



CV or Resume: Click Here to Download
Source: Susanne Stephenson


Artist's Studio: Stephenson's Ceramics


Typical Marks

Brush written initials, underglaze blue or black. Scratched with a pin tool in the glaze on the side near the bottom of the vessel. Some clearer than others, some works are unmarked.

Date: 1978
Materials: Porcelain
Method: Extruded, Hand-Built
Dimensions: 50" 42" 4 1/2"
Surface Technique: Pit Fired
Tara Nahabetian Collection
Photo: Susanne Stephenson
Tara Nahabetian Collection
Photo: Susanne Stephenson
Twisted Earthscape #5
Date: 1987
Materials: Colored Clay, Metal, Terracotta
Method: Coiled, Extruded, Hand-Built, Mixed Methods
Dimensions: 20" 21" 22"
Surface Technique: Incised, Slip

. .

John Stephenson Collection
Photo: Susanne Stephenson
John Stephenson Collection
Photo: Susanne Stephenson
Twisted Earthscape #6
Date: 2006
Materials: metal armature, paper clay, Terracotta
Method: Hand-Built, Mixed Methods, Slab-Built
Dimensions: 15" x 15" x 12"
Surface Technique: Slip
John Stephenson Collection
Photo: Susanne Stephenson
John Stephenson Collection
Photo: Susanne Stephenson

Citation: "The Marks Project." Last modified March 30, 2023.