Joseph Kowalczyk


(Ko-väl-chick), is an award winning sculptor, painter, and draftsman that has been contributing to the arts community in the California Bay Area since he received a BFA in ceramics from California College of the Arts in 2006.  Along with his own studio practice, Joe works as a ceramics instructor at Creative Growth Art Center.  He manages his own kiln repair business, restoring kilns and assisting artists throughout the Northern California bay area (www.kilnspecialist.com).  Joe is also a co-founder/co-director of FM, a fine art gallery and community of artist studios within the Oakland Art Murmur district; the forefront of Oakland’s astonishing growth and creative revitalization (www.FMoakland.com). 




“Much of my sculpture explores aspects of the human shadow; those which we deem improper, primitive and ultimately “unfit” for modern society.”


Joseph’s sculpture often explores representations of protection, strength, integrity, and honor, as it questions the legitimacy of such virtues. His figures possess dualities that spring from the darker side of the subconscious, often referred to as the “human shadow.” This is a way to identify and highlight specific aspects of the human shadow, as it puts them into the physical world; to give them a face and a set of eyes, so we can confront them and hopefully understand them better.




Refelections About My Work

“When I was a child around the age of 6 or so, I remember one day my father began repainting the interior walls of our home. Before work began, he humorously painted a great big smiley face on my wall… directly over my bed. It terrified me! I’m not sure why it scared me so much. The smiley face had no personality, no portrayal of maliciousness; it was just two dots and an inverted arch. After seeing how I felt, my father immediately painted over it with a fresh layer of paint, but STILL I was scared. I knew that although the face was covered up, it was still there, hiding underneath this new layer of paint with that giant smile.

Over 20 years later I still remember the event vividly, and I find it fascinating. The fear obviously wasn’t based on any legitimate threat; it was completely inside my head. I can’t help but to consider the fears I hold today and how they might influence my decisions. It brings me to question, which fears are legitimate, and which ones are just smiley faces. And furthermore, how did they get there?”

— Joseph Kowalczyk