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Gallery Shop Artist Spotlight: Justin Rothshank

Mary Bell, our Gallery Shop Manager, took over the blog to talk about a new artist in our Gallery Shop! Keep reading to see what she loves about these pieces.

Kentuck's Gallery Shop recently acquired several pieces by ceramicist Justin Rothshank, and I could not have been more excited. Now, I know you're thinking, "Who in the world is this Rothshank guy?" Here are the basic facts: Justin is a potter from Goshen, Indiana. He's known for his work with decals and exhibits, travels, and teaches across the United States.

Here are the not-so-basic facts for me: My view of pottery transformed completely after encountering the work of Justin Rothshank. His philosophy, technique, and imagery create this sacred space of conversation about life, meaning, gratitude, and intention--even if the conversation is just between you and the piece.

his philosophy

Justin works alongside his wife, Brooke, a painter, and together they make Rothshank Artworks. Brooke and Justin declare that they "believe that artwork and creativity are a catalyst for social change and economic improvement as well as enhancing everyday lives with beauty. Art gives a voice to the voiceless, enables self understanding, and provides a window into other cultures. These are among the reasons we have chosen to pursue lives as working artists." The Rothshanks also set meaningful goals--in 2017, they set out to create one piece each a week that focused on gratitude, and, in 2019, they're focusing on being intentional. Read more about Sharing Intention here.

Pssst: The cream jug on the right is available in Kentuck's Gallery Shop!

his technique

I'm sure you've noticed by now that Justin's work maybe doesn't look like your go-to mug--it certainly doesn't look like mine! The imagery on his pieces are created via stamping and decals. It takes multiple steps and firings to complete a piece. Here's an extremely simplified breakdown of his process:

Step One: Throw the piece on a potter's wheel

Step Two: Apply any stamping or slips to begin decorating the piece

Step Three: Fire the piece, unglazed

Step Four: Glaze and fire again

Step Five: Decorate the piece with ceramic decals

Step Six: Fire the piece again

*Justin often fires his pieces several more times, layering more decals each time for a collage effect.

his imagery

So as you've noticed, Justin uses stamps and decals to decorate his work, and, oftentimes, these decals are more than just pretty surface decoration. One of his most recognizable motifs is the poppy, which Justin designed during the war in Afghanistan to reflect his Mennonite heritage and his opposition to the war. Justin has also created dinnerware sets featuring all 45 presidents of the United States and has recently completed a commission for the High Museum of Art in Atlanta featuring photographs from their Civil Rights collection. Justin's work is more than just something beautiful at which to look; his work reflects his believe that pottery can be an gateway to change and community building.

Photos courtesy of Justin Rothshank and

Intrigued by Justin's work? Come by Kentuck's Gallery Shop during business hours to see his stunning pieces in person!


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