Jessica Stoller USA, b. 1981


“Trying to sculpt, there's always a tension. How much trompe l’oeil do I want? Am I creating some kind of facsimile to the body? What about colors? There’s a way to think about our own corporeal states, how a material can have a life of its own through how it’s rendered. It’s tricking you in a strange way.” 

— Jessica Stoller

Jessica Stoller is a ceramic artist whose work creates tension by subverting the associations people have with her materials and forms. The work puts incongruous elements in dialogue, like a pimple and a peony, or a ball of snakes and human buttocks, juxtaposing what might be considered beautiful with what might be considered grotesque.


Stoller is interested in the dichotomies presented by her medium and subject matter. She relates the tactile, sensuous, and complicated process of working with ceramics to the various reactions viewers have to the work—especially as they first encounter the ornamentation she adds to her sculptures, and then slowly confront the more difficult and surprising aspects of the composition.


Instantly recognizable elements in Stoller’s sculptures compete for attention with elements in the work that are askew and strange. Stoller deftly finds the balance between the two, using the delicacy and beauty of the material to seduce viewers, until the disjointed visual cues finally stifle and complicate their gaze.


“I like to play with materials that don’t always do what I want them to do,” Stoller says. “It’s rewarding and also arduous. Hopefully, the works are just as unnerving and strange to viewers.”


Stoller earned her MFA from Cranbrook Academy of Art, Bloomfield Hills, MI, in 2006. She has been awarded a Chenven Foundation Grant and Pollock-Krasner Foundation Grant, and is a Louis Comfort Tiffany Foundation Biennial Award Nominee. Her work has been exhibited at the Fondation Bernardaud, Limoges, France; Zuckerman Museum of Art, Kennesaw, GA; Bronx Museum of the Arts and Wave Hill, Bronx, NY; and Contemporary Art Institute of Detroit, Detroit, MI, among others. She has had artist residencies at the Shigaraki Ceramic Culture Park, Koka City, Shiga-Pref., Japan; Museum of Arts and Design New York, NY; Kohler Arts/Industry Program, Kohler, WI; and Bronx Museum of the Arts, Bronx, NY.