Jeffry Mitchell’s primary medium is ceramic and he is well versed in its traditions around the globe (references to Early American glazes, Pennsylvania Dutch pickle jars, asymmetrical Japanese aesthetic decisions and Chinese Foo Dogs abound). Mitchell takes a very direct approach to working, often eschewing refinements that commonly accompany many ceramic processes. The resulting pieces radiate an exuberant, unbridled immediacy. He feels that this unfettered approach is essentially relatable to our shared human experience. To explain this idea Mitchell talks about a fundamental familiarity with clay that we all carry with us from our formative years. Perhaps we came to it through playing as children making mud pies or maybe it was making pinch pots in elementary school, regardless he feels that clay is a material that is universally relatable at a very basic level. The imagery that he uses is also very accessible. Bears, elefants (he prefers ‘f’ to ‘ph’), bunnies and flowers appear over and over in his work and though they can be definitely be related to his own personal story he feels that these too spring from an early and universally familiar place. Throughout the work Mitchell seeks to tap into and broadcast a sense of vitality whether it be joyful or colored with more a complex mix of emotions. This throughline can been seen in the thick, dripping glazes, the unabashed appropriation of decorative motifs and an unmistakeable suffusion of playfulness.
Notable solo exhibitions of Mitchell’s work include: Like a Valentine: The Art of Jeffry Mitchell, 2012-2013, Henry Art Gallery; Some Things and Their Shadows, 2009, Kittredge Gallery, University of Puget Sound, Tacoma, WA; Shiny Happy Pretty (with Tina Hoggatt), 2008, Missoula Art Museum; Hanabuki, 2001, Henry Art Gallery; My Spirit, 1992, New Museum of Contemporary Art, NY; and Documents Northwest: The Poncho Series, 1990, Seattle Art Museum.
Mitchell’s work can be found in numerous private and public collections including the Smithsonian American Art Museum, Seattle Art Museum, Philadelphia Art Museum, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, Philadelphia Art Museum, Fogg Art Museum (Harvard University), Honolulu Museum of Art, Tacoma Art Museum, and the Portland Art Museum.