John Mosler and the Power of Intuition

General / People / Places / Products / October 14, 2016

At the suggestion of a Princeton classmate, self-described “jock” John Mosler signed up for a ceramics class with Toshiko Takaezu, the mother of ceramic sculpture in the U.S.

It was an intuitive, life-changing move.

“I couldn’t make an ashtray when I started,” the 56-year-old Mosler says today. “I didn’t think it was difficult, but she demanded integrity.”

Once he’d graduated in 1983, he headed for Wall Street and a career in complex problem-solving. But ceramics still beckoned. And a chance encounter with his former muse turned him around.

“I saw her at a show eight years later, and I went over and said ‘Hey – you probably don’t remember me, but I’ve started making things again,'” he says. “She said: ‘Why don’t you bring some stuff down, and stay, and make some work?'”

So began a 22-year maternal relationship that lasted until Toshiko died. “She saw something in me – it became a mother/son relationship and it got to the point where I was her favorite,” he says. “It was all about the circle of working in the studio, working in the garden, and eating.”

By 2007, his work had evolved to the point of a possible new career path. And he made another intuitive leap. “I was uncertain about that path when there was a certainty in my other career,” he says. “I found in my heart that this is really it – do I want a lot of stuff, or a life well-lived?”

He decided on a life well-lived, whatever the cost. The result is an artistic career in ceramics – one that initially expressed the struggles humans go through in their lives – as individuals, and with the gift of freedom. The work’s an intense process for him, and not without difficulties.

“It’s a real struggle – but when I’m finished, each piece becomes a beautiful object,” he says. “So it’s about me or you, and at the end we are all whole human beings who are also unique and beautiful human beings.”

He works in a studio created by his wife, interior designer Jean Won Mosler of Maum Design. There, on Nov. 17, he’ll open a show of his newest works, and talk to those in attendance about what they see in his art.

“What the viewer sees and experiences might not be what I see or be within my conceptual framework,” he says. “But I’m all for each individual having their own experience of the work, with the hope that it is some how provocative, thought-provoking and moving for each viewer.”

In other words, an intuitive experience for all.

Photo credit: Copyright BarkowPhoto

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Michael Welton
I write about architecture, art, and design for national and international publications. I am the author of "Drawing from Practice: Architects and the Meaning of Freehand" (Routledge, 2015), and the former architecture critic for the News & Observer in Raleigh, N.C.




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