Jo Willis is a trans-disciplinary object maker investigating magic, beginnings and transformation. They will receive their BFA from the Milwaukee Institute of Art & Design in May 2023. Willis has exhibited their work in cities such as Madison, WI, Milwaukee, WI, Manchester, NH, and Petaluma, CA, and curated shows in Milwaukee at the Gray Area and DIY gallery spaces. Willis’ work combines the primitive and technological, seeking a form of object-making that honors both the past and the future.
I explore an imagined VOID FORGE facility where the lines between technology and magic are blurred, and humans return to a primeval state of object worship. This is a place outside of time, where objects hold immense power and meaning. VOID FORGE pulls from somewhere the world that has been, and might be going. It contains everything and nothing. It can be anywhere, at any time – able to make and pull artifacts from laminating timelines through a practice of improvisation and faith.
My intention is to create artifacts that capture the essence of this space, objects that are both ancient and futuristic. I bridge the gap between the primitive and technological, unifying traditional, hand-built ceramic techniques with experimental 3D printing processes. I am particularly drawn to the possibilities that 3D printing offers, allowing me to create forms and shapes that would be impossible using traditional methods. By embracing this technology, I can create objects that are both deeply rooted in the past and firmly planted in the future. At the same time, I am also inspired by the ancient ways of making. I am drawn to the tactile and physical aspects of working with clay, the way it responds to the touch and the unique qualities it possesses. By combining these two approaches, I seek to create a new form of object-making, one that honors both the past and the future.