Daniel Johnston is an artist, an avid supporter of WARP, a lover of textiles, and the fiancé of WARP’s Executive Director, Kelsey Wiskirchen. He was also our entertaining auctioneer at this year’s Annual Meeting in Ohio, helping us raise over $5000 for scholarships and our operation fund. WARP’s Fireside Chats committee thought WARP members would enjoy the chance to meet Daniel and learn more about his work.
At age 16, Daniel Johnston began his career in ceramics under the tutelage of 86-year-old female potter, Nell Cole Graves. Many years of training as an apprentice concreted Daniel’s place in several of the most important traditional ceramic lineages worldwide and carried him from North Carolina to England, Thailand, Estonia, and Australia. His love of textiles began during his training in Thailand, when he was introduced to ikat and Thai silks. At age 23, Daniel established his studio in Seagrove, North Carolina, where he makes and fires large ceramic vessels in one of the largest wood fired kilns in the country. Daniel has maintained a paid apprenticeship program at his North Carolina studio for the past 22 years, teaching over 200 students and 13 apprentices.
In 2016, Daniel broke from the functional ceramic world and built his first large-scale sculptural installation in a major museum. Daniel has created 7 massive ceramic installations including a 400 foot long sculpture purchased by the North Carolina Museum of Art, which remains on permanent display. In 2020, after 8 years of interviews and research, folklorist and author Henry Glassie published “Daniel Johnston: A Portrait of the Artist as a Potter in North Carolina,” a biography of Daniel’s life and career. Daniel is now represented by Gerald Peters Contemporary Gallery in New York and Santa Fe, New Mexico. Daniel exhibits his installations, paintings, and large ceramic vessels internationally.