Simon Levin has been working in clay since 1990, when an elective ceramics course in college changed the direction of his life, leading to an M.A. and an M.F.A from the University of Iowa. He is a full time studio potter working exclusively with wood firing. His work is exhibited internationally, and appears in several contemporary ceramic books. Simon is a writer for many ceramic journals, though he dislikes writing about himself in the third person. In 2013 he traveled to Taiwan as a Senior Fulbright scholar researching local materials. As a kiln builder Simon has built wood fired kilns for both US colleges and universities as well as schools in Taiwan and China. Between 2004 and 2018 his apprenticeship program has trained and influenced 17 potters. A resident of Wisconsin for 18 years, Simon has recently moved to Pawnee Illinois where he is currently re-establishing his pottery.
Several years ago I stood back and looked at my work, taking stock of what I saw I decided where I wanted it to go. Being overly ambitious, and seeking an ideal rather than the practical I aimed high. I decided I wanted my work to reach past the contemporary, beyond style and taste, touching something primal in all of us. I wanted to make work that reaches that which is first in the human experience, pottery that draws from tradition but resonates regardless of when it might be experienced.
In the 6th century a monk named Dorotheus of Gaza wrote a beautiful metaphor for God. Dorotheus spoke of God as the hub on a wheel, and we are all spokes around that center. In order for us to move closer to God we must move closer to everyone else on that wheel, and in the center is oneness. Anything that is divisive and exclusionary moves us away from all other people and thus moves us away from God.
In Judaism we have a core prayer called the Sh’ma. The Sh’ma says “Listen of Israel, the lord is God. The lord is one.” The concept of unity, togetherness, oneness, center as divine permeates almost all religions, and spiritual disciplines. It is root theology.
For my own pottery I want it to speak to a broad audience but to do this by reaching core ideas rather than dilution and syncretism. The spokes on the wheel that I use to approach the center are, clay, elemental processes, simple drawings and line, functional pottery, and community objects.
More information about Simon can be found at: simonlevin.com