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JORDAN VAN SEWELL BIO

Canadian ceramic artist, Jordan Van Sewell, was born in Moosejaw, SK on July 5, 1954. His early years were spent wandering through a great many Prairie towns along the CPR line in Saskatchewan and Manitoba with a gaggle of his siblings.

His grade 3 teacher prompted the redheaded, freckle faced left hander to use his right hand and join convention. That didn’t work for either of them. Looking back on the experience, Jordan reflects upon this as being a clue the road ahead was going to be a tough one.

The existence of a brave new world was compounded by the appearance of The Beatles on the Ed Sullivan Show. Things were never the same after that Sunday evening. He and all of his brothers immediately gave up haircuts, much to the chagrin of their father. Introduced to clay in grade 12, he followed this pursuit through art school at the University of Manitoba until 1979.

Then he returned to a brakeman position on the freight trains, working every branch line between Manitoba and British Columbia, the fourth of three previous generations of railroaders in his family. The elimination of the caboose ended his job.

Jordan returned to Winnipeg, and in 1989 purchased a home in the historic South Point Douglas neighbourhood just blocks from the CPR Station, and early job, as a CPR redcap.

The notable elements of his house, built in 1882, have been both a witness to many changes and an inspiration – informing distinctive components in his artwork, and are often captured in his ceramic sculpture, as well.

Whether Jordan’s early art influences started with Charlie
Brown and Snoopy, or if the rocket leap to artist and cartoonist Ed “Big Daddy” Roth and motorcycle mechanic Von Dutch – an appreciation of their works began to cement Jordan’s direction. And the worlds of cartoonist R. Crumb and underground cartoonist and illustrator, Vaughn Bode, completed the orbit.

Jordan spent time on the board of the Winnipeg Art Gallery, as chair of the Works of Art Committee. He served on the Manitoba Craft Council as a board member, and Interim Director. He held the position of Heritage Winnipeg’s Chairman of the Board. Through the Artist in the School Program, he visited rural and northern communities, teaching the wonders of clay.

Today the voices of this master craftsman’s pieces resonate after half a century of developing his methods, practices and immediately recognizable style. The continuing commentary of his art is like a reflection in a wry funhouse mirror. Their elemental truths become hilarious, thoughtful, cautionary and provocative allegories and tales, with contradictory outcomes of hope possible.

Jordan Van Sewell’s ceramic sculptures can be found in multitude of public and private collections, as well as at Buckingham Palace.