Today we’d like to introduce you to John Fazzino.
John, let’s start with your story. We’d love to hear how you got started and how the journey has been so far.
I was 27 when I was introduced to Ceramics in a YMCA class in Hartford, Ct. A friend of mine who was an artist in many media including ceramics took me under his wing and mentored me in ceramics. I held promise, as 3 years later I was accepted into the BFA program in Ceramics at Rhode Island School of Design, (RISD). Previous to ceramics I had dabbled in macramé and basket making, making large plant holders, wall hangings and baskets as we did in the 70’s. So up till then I had not been exposed to “art”. RISD was a transformation moment in my life. I was opened to a new world where I was taught to use my eyes, mind and hands in new ways. I was exposed to the art world, a world up to then I was only faintly aware of. I can compare it to being in a desert for many years, then stumbling across that oasis with plenty of water, food and sustenance. My time at RISD was spend working hard, perfecting my craft and stretching my imagination. I was encouraged and took advantage of the many offerings RISD had to offer in the form of experimenting in many different media as provided by their Winter Session courses offered each January for 6 weeks. I partook of Watercolors, Pastels, forging, welding, metal casting, and basketry, each of these to work their way into the art I now make. My senior thesis show brought together works on a large scale utilizing clay as the main media encased in metal forms welded into creature like structures reaching to heights of 16 feet suspended from the ceiling or sitting on the floor of the gallery.
I was then accepted into the Master’s Program at Swain School of Design in New Bedford working with nationally recognized ceramics master Chris Gustin. Chris was the head of the Program in Artisanry at Boston University. This program was going to be disbanded and Swain bought it from BU in the early 80’s. Mid-career at Swain, they were having trouble and had to sell this program to UMass Dartmouth, so it is from them I got my degree in 1989 after 3 years in the program. My time spent at Swain was calculated to incorporate another passion of mine into my work, that being gardening. I was already familiar with building large works in clay and I wanted to continue in this arena with the intention of adding to the beauty of nature, (lol), and bringing that into the garden setting. One of my first works there was a site specific piece designed around a circular brick patio 12 feet in circumference in the back yard of the president’s residence at Swain. He’s a great guy. So this was to be a combination of benches, planters and waterfall. It was a semi-circular work made as a double walled structure, 12″ wide with benches on each end starting at about 2 feet high and moving upward around the circle incorporating planters gradually moving upward to a peak where the water came out for the water fall cascading into a small pond also built for the purpose. Kind of like a semi-circular mountain with the water coming from the peak in the middle of the work. It fit perfectly into the space transforming a boring patio area into a magical space to sit and contemplate amongst nature. These kinds of works continued throughout my time there graduating in 1989. Soon after I was asked to take over from a friend who worked as the gardener at a country club in East Providence. Passion number 2 now beginning. This led to forming my own small business working for clients in their home gardens throughout RI. I purposefully kept this business small not wanting to sacrifice any more time away from my art as I could. Then I was asked to join the team at Providence College in the Ceramics Department as a Technician and Adjunct teacher, teaching one night a week beginning ceramics. I had never intended to teach, but launched into this new arena with gusto. Teaching is like going back to school again. One learns as much here teaching clay as the students and more. Previous to this I’d started taking yoga classes from a friend and progressed in this until she asked me to take a teacher training course. This was a 250 hour teaching session done at the Providence Zen Center over a period of 2 months, taught by Yogi Amrit Desai of Kripalu infamy. I’ve been teaching yoga now for around 17 years. I find it interesting and very satisfying to combine these 3 unique forms in to my life and my work as an artist. These 3 have kept me out of the corporate world and provided me with an exciting and comfortable life. In my present home I have incorporated a Ceramics studio, a Yoga studio and my gardening business, which provides avenues for optimum creativity and leisure in which to allow ideas to germinate and come to fruition. My work has changed and evolved over the years in ways I could not have imagined when first starting out. I now work much smaller due to many factors, age being one of them, but I still move between larger and smaller works alternating between them in order to keep things fresh. I currently teach 2 ceramics classes, 8 yoga classes, while maintaining my gardening business.
Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
One struggle was working as an Adjunct at Providence College for 15 years. The ceramics head, a friend of mine for all those years was retiring after 40 plus years. I had subbed for him on several occasions while he was on sabbatical, so I had an understanding of the full time teaching curriculum and schedule. I worked well with the rest of the Art staff and professors. I was given the position for one year after he retired with the stipulation that it would go out after that to the public at large to find a candidate to fill it. The job search led to a very young recent graduate with a Masters from RISD getting hired. I was out.
Ceramics For The Garden, Q Gardens, and Yoga spirit – what should we know? What do you guys do best? What sets you apart from the competition?
What sets me apart from others is detailed in a previous note here. Having combined 3 unique businesses into one I have an edge as an artist with a gardening business and a sensibility of a Yoga professional to be measured and compassionate in my dealings with people places and things. I’m proud that I continue working for some of the same clients I’ve had for many years who continue to call on me as I maintain their gardens. I’m proud that I have a home with 2 studios and a business running out of it. I’m proud that I run these businesses as a sole proprietor. I’m known for creating large works that sit in the garden as a counter point to flowers. What I do is create beauty for my clients and those who buy my works.
What is “success” or “successful” for you?
For me success is happiness. If I’m happy, I’m successful. If my clients are happy, I’m successful. If the gardens look beautiful, I’m happy, the clients are happy, I’m successful.
- Works of art are priced according to market value.
- Gardening labor costs are $45 an hour.
- Yoga classes are $15 for an hour and 15 minutes.
- Address: 26 Bolton Ave. Providence, RI 02908
- Website: www.johnfazzino.com
- Phone: 401-965-8074
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/john.fazzino.5