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  • Writer's pictureShea Stanfield

Putting a Ding in the Universe

Artist Joanie Wolter dings the Universe with her art, she applies her endless wit and sense of humor to her laughable and very lovable, Fiber Clay Sculptures. Joanie’s journey started in California, where creativity, innovation and artistic are adjectives connected to the outcome in business and the arts. She was born and raised in Downey, CA a suburb, outside of Los Angeles. Joanie describes herself as, “Focused, serious, very shy, and “college bound” kind of kid.” As-a-result the thought of taking an art or music class never entered her mind. After high school graduation Joanie headed off to the University of California at Santa Barbara where she majored in Sociology. Later she would return to school for a credential in Mathematics.

There was little doubt Joanie would follow the path to become a teacher. Her summers, during her teen years, were spent working as a teacher’s aide or a recreation leader. Upon completing her degree at age 22 she stepped right off into a 37-year teaching career. In the beginning she was assigned to the elementary level, soon moving into middle and high school as a math instructor. Her favorite job was as the Director of the Independent Studies program for students with “alternative” learning styles. It was not until she and her husband Charlie retired and they moved to Sedona, AZ that she considered a profession in the arts and the Sedona Art Center was just the place to start this new beginning.

Joanie recalls, "I entered the art field where self-expression is a valuable commodity, I immediately recognized I was a bit behind the curve." Growing up in an extremely competitive family where being first was the only option, mistakes were not encouraged. Joanie recounts, “Fortunately, at the Art Center I was able to try out everything from drawing to jewelry making with very nurturing instructors, but it was love at first turn when I took my first ceramic class.” Dennis Ott, the ceramics teacher realized in short order that Joanie was not going to do her best work throwing clay on a potter’s wheel and suggested she try hand-built clay. This was a fateful move opening a whole new world of possibilities and fun.

“My creations are meant to help people find the joy in life. If folks smile at a piece, I have done my job."

Sculptor Lorri Acott introduced Joanie to Fiber Clay, a “match made in art heaven” for Joanie’s keen sense of humor and quick wit. She produced fluffy older women, sagging in all the places to illicit a laugh and a giggle. Humor in clay became Joanie’s signature style. “My creations are meant to help people find the joy in life. If folks smile at a piece, I have done my job."

Today, Joanie and Charlie work in their home studio in North Scottsdale. She loves sharing the joy through teaching classes to anyone willing to explore a new medium. Joanie’s philosophy is, “Everyone is a success!” Joanie is represented by several galleries, Wild Holly Gallery in Carefree, Finer Art Gallery in Cave Creek, and JoyEful Gallery in El Pedregal, Scottsdale. Learn more about Joanie Wolter; her art or class schedule on her social media.


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