Artist Profile: Michael Terra

Terra’s “Home Owners” explores the nature of “house” and “home.”

Dubbed the “Mud Poet,” ceramic artist Michael Terra creates whimsical pieces of handmade stoneware for everyday use. Series of works inventively titled “Reading Glasses,” “Postcards from the Inside,” “Squints” and more, announce themselves with wit and charm.

Terra’s inspiration begins with people and their relationships with their worlds. “I have a very busy mind and I’m endlessly curious,” he explains. “I try to find the common truths to connect artistically and poetically.” He engineers textures and words to evoke memories and responses, and designs each piece to be very tactile, with glazes that run from matte to glossy.

Although Terra’s formal education is in “things like biophysics and psychology,” his interest in ceramics began with a girl. She was a ceramics major and, while he hung out waiting for her to finish her work, he started “goofing around with the medium” himself and discovered his true career path.

Terra likes to push traditional boundaries and he pays close attention to details, from the “tone” a goblet makes when you clink it in a toast to its weight in your hand. His current work-in-progress is “Hollow Man”: “It has components, a poem and moving parts, and it calls out to the viewer to hold it and allow its personal significance to be revealed. It has great physical and emotional presence.”

Terra is a long-time Buyers Market of American Craft exhibitor. His work is carried by craft and fine art galleries as well as museum shops throughout the U.S. Terra’s wife Victoria—the “Logistics Goddess”—attends to the ever-crucial business details, and she and Michael work as a collaborative team. They bounce ideas off each other and work side-by-side to develop marketing plans, display presentations and future projects.

But change is in the wind. Terra wants to create larger works, “public art that involves entire communities,” he says. “I hope my art will become even more emotionally engaging and make people feel ‘opened’ by their interactions with it.”