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Artist: Sam Hoffman

Sam Hoffman, OREGON
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Artist Statement

Curiosity about clay and fire is my primary motivation for making pottery. Artistic exploration interests more than personal expression. My passion for ceramics is influenced by a background in mathematics, chemistry, and astronomy. I enjoy using my studio as a laboratory for experimenting with materials and kilns. But my studio is also a place of meditation, where the focused nature of wheel throwing keeps me centered. When forming and firing my work, I consider risk, chance, and unpredictability to be essential tools for my creative process, allowing me to pursue an aesthetic balance between intention and fortuity.

In my “Deep Focus” series, I use the surfaces of stoneware and porcelain vessels to reference an optical lens, such as a telescope or magnifying glass. The concave interior of a platter or the swollen belly of a vase become ideal canvases on which to explore. When firing pottery in wood and vapor kilns, subtle changes in the shape of a piece can influence how flames move over the clay and, consequently, how it is colored and textured. I am excited by the possibilities of combining my premeditated marks with the serendipitous glaze effects from the fire. By manipulating the two-dimensional surfaces of a three-dimensional form, I hope to create an allusion to the infinite, be it microscopic or interstellar.


Artist Bio

Sam Hoffman was introduced to pottery in 1996 while studying math, art, and French at Carleton College. After a two year apprenticeship in high fired porcelain with Doug Hively, he pursued an MFA at Kent State University with Kirk Mangus and Eva Kwong. During graduate study, Sam was invited to be a visiting artist at the 2002 International Wood Firing Festival in Aomori, Japan.

Inspired to establish his own pottery, Sam moved back to Oregon in 2003 and began teaching ceramics at Linn Benton Community College. He was invited by Hiroshi Ogawa to become a permanent member of the Hikarigama wood kiln firing crew. A residency at Kanayama pottery in Goshogawara, Japan solidified his passion for wood firing and the meditative lifestyle of the studio potter.

In 2009, the Hoffman family (Sam, Tess, Max, and Fiona) began the process of building a studio at their home in Corvallis, Oregon. Sam is an active member of the Oregon Potters Association and was awarded the honor of being a 2010 Ceramics Monthly “Emerging Artist”. In 2016, Sam began the process of collecting and refurbishing used firebrick and is currently building a small anagama-style wood kiln.

Sam has two main bodies of work that are fired in wood and vapor-glaze kilns. The “Deep Focus” series combines premeditated marks with effects from the fire to create surfaces inspired by the microscopic world and the cosmos. His “Downhill Flow” series is a reaction to his love for skateboarding and snowboarding, pursuits that, like pottery making, demand complete focus and can induce a flow-state of balance and center.


Scholastic Education


  • Master of Fine Arts, - Kent State University, Kent, OH
  • teaching assistant and studio technician with Kirk Mangus and Eva Kwong


  • Bachelor of Arts, Carleton College, Northfield, MN
  • major in Studio Arts, minor in French Studies, Cum Laude Honors


Professional Experience

2003-2018 Woodfire apprentice to Hiroshi Ogawa, anagama loading and crew manager

2004-2016 - Associate professor of ceramics, Linn Benton College, Corvallis, OR

2013 - Visiting artist at Kinkaid School, invited by Jane DiPaulo, Houston, TX

2012 - Visiting artist at Kent State University, invited by Eva Kwong, Kent, OH

2008 - Co-curator of “Painting With Fire” wood firing symposium, Lake Oswego, OR

2007 - Visiting artist at Northwest Missouri State University, Maryville, MO

2006 - Visiting artist at City of Boulder Pottery Lab, Boulder, CO

2004 - Resident artist at Kanayama Pottery, invited by Ryoji Matsymiya, Aomori, Japan

2003 - Guest lecturer at Youngstown State University, Youngstown, OH

2002 - Visiting artist at Aomori International Wood Fire Festival, Goshogawara, Japan

1997-1999 - Studio apprentice to porcelain potter Doug Hively, Monmouth, OR



2016 - “Atmospheric Firings”, OddFellows Gallery, Mendocino, CA

2014 - “American Shino Glazes in Wood Firing”, Oregon Potters Association journal

2013 - “Carbon Trapping”, Technofile, Ceramics Monthly, March issue

2012 - “Courting Entropy: Adventures in Wood Firing”, Blossom Arts Festival journal

2010 - “Emerging Artist Award”, Ceramics Monthly, May issue

2008 - “One Foot in the Past, One Step in the Future”, Lake Oswego Arts Center journal

2006 - “Up In Smoke: Wood Firing Challenges in Today’s World”, 2006 NCECA journal

2006 - “Raw Materials - Minerals - Clays”, 2006 NCECA journal

2005 - “Clays, Slips, and Glazes for Wood Firing”, Ceramics Monthly, summer issue

2005 - “M.C. Richards: The Fire Within”, 2005 NCECA journal

2003 - “Creating Large Plates and Platters”, Pottery Making Illustrated, March issue


Public and Private Collections

Seaside Medical Clinic, urgent care facility, Seaside, OR

Perlman Teaching Museum, Carleton College, Northfield, MN

Columbia Memorial Hospital, cancer treatment facility, Astoria, OR

Sidney Swidler Collection, Crocker Art Museum, Sacramento, CA

Tsugaru Kanayama pottery, Aomori prefecture, Goshogawara, Japan

Aomori Museum of Art, Aomori prefecture, Goshogawara, Japan



2021 - “Featured Artist”, Charlie Cummings Gallery, Gainesville, FL

- “POST”, Benton County Museum, Philomath, OR

2020 - “Woodfireworks III”, Charlie Cummings Gallery, Gainesville, FL

- “In the Gallery”, LaSells Stewart Center, Oregon State University, Corvallis, OR

- “Imagine the Future”, Benton County Museum, Philomath, OR

2019 - “From the Beginning”, Carleton College, Northfield, MN

- “Our Place in the Cosmos”, Evergreen Aviation Museum, McMinneville, OR

- “About Light”, main gallery, Corvallis Arts Center, Corvallis, OR

- “Hikarigama - The Illuminated Kiln”, Art Object Gallery, San Jose, CA

2018 - “Woodfireworks II”, Charlie Cummings Gallery, Gainesville, FL

- “Featured Artist”, Lillstreet Gallery, Chicago, IL

- “Yunomi Invitational”, AKAR gallery, Iowa City, IA

- “Artists of the Willamette Valley”, Corrine Woodman Gallery, Corvallis, OR

2017 - “The Artful Eclipse”, main gallery, Corvallis Arts Center, Corvallis, OR

- “Good Ol’ Woodfire”, POTS gallery, Seattle, WA

- “Soap Creek Artisans”, Benton County Museum, Philomath, OR

- “Yunomi Invitational”, AKAR gallery, Iowa City, IA

2016 - “Showdown at the Loops”, Maryhill Museum, Goldendale, WA

- “From The Earth”, World Forestry Center, Portland, OR

- “Floral Clay”, Corvallis Waldorf School, Corvallis, OR

- “Yunomi Invitational”, AKAR gallery, Iowa City, IA

2015 - “5+5”, Trax gallery, Berkeley, CA

- “Featured Artist”, Plinth Gallery, Denver, CO

- “Yunomi Invitational”, AKAR gallery, Iowa City, IA

- “Stoked”, Eutectic gallery, Portland, OR

2014 - “Simple Cup Invitational”, Kobo gallery, Seattle, WA

- “Confluence”, Giustina gallery, Oregon State University, Corvallis, OR

- “Yunomi Invitational”, AKAR gallery, Iowa City, IA

- “Featured Oregon Potters”, Portland Justice Center gallery, Portland, OR

2013 - “Toward the Future, Messages From Clay”, Odori Museum, Hokkaido, Japan

- “A Tile and A Vessel”, Silver City Clay Festival, Silver City, NM

- “Yunomi Invitational”, AKAR gallery, Iowa City, IA

- “Seasons”, North Bank gallery, Vancouver, WA

- “Woodfiring in the Pacific Northwest”, Chehalem Cultural Center, Newberg, OR

2012 - “Vapor Trails”, solo exhibition, Blossom Arts, Eels Gallery, Cleveland, OH

- “Showcase”, 2nd Place Best in Show, Oregon Potters Association, Portland, OR

- “Flashpoint: International Woodfire”, Plinth gallery, Denver, CO

- “Yunomi Invitational”, AKAR gallery, Iowa City, IA

- “10 Woodfire Kilns of the Northwest”, POTS gallery, Seattle, WA

- “West Coast Woodfire”, Fire Arts Center, Arcata, CA

2011 - “Featured Artist”, AKAR gallery, Iowa City, IA

- “Showcase”, 1st Place Poster Award, Oregon Potters Association, Portland, OR

- “The Vase and Beyond”, Crocker Art Museum, Sacramento, CA

- “Yunomi Invitational”, AKAR gallery, Iowa City, IA

- “The Illuminating Kiln”, Emerald Arts Center, Springfield, OR

- “Atmospheric Firings”, Triton Art Museum, Santa Clara, CA

- “Contemporary Northwest Ceramics”, Jundt Art Museum, Spokane, WA

2010 - “Northwest Woodfire”, POTS gallery, Seattle, WA

- “Woodfiring Symposium”, Ohio University, Athens, OH

- “30x5”, AKAR gallery, Iowa City, IA

- “Dining In III”, 18 Hands gallery, Houston, TX

- “Shino REDUX”, Clay Art Center gallery, Port Chester, NY

- “FILL-adelphia”, Show of Hands Gallery, Philidelphia, PA

2009 - “National Cup Show Invitational”, Kent State University, Kent, OH

- “A Path of Flame 2009”, Madera Gallery, Tacoma, WA

- “Spoon it, Fork it, Cut it Up!”, Baltimore Clay Works, Baltimore, MD

- “Muddy’s Woodfire Classic”, Myers Gallery, Santa Ana, CA

2008 - “A Path of Flame 2008”, Madera Gallery, Tacoma, WA

- “Clouds Above, Mountains Below”, Whipple Art Gallery, Sutherlin, OR

- “Contained”, University of Arkansas, Monticello, AR

2007 - “Wood-Fired Connections”, Art Object Gallery, San Jose, CA

2006 - “International Wood Fire Conference”, Northern Arizona University, Flagstaff, AZ

- “Extravagance of Salt & Pepper”, Baltimore Clay Works, Baltimore, MD

- “Decade”, Walters Cultural Arts Center, Hillsboro, OR

2005 - “School’s Out!”, Community College of Baltimore County Gallery, Baltimore, MD

2004 - “Clearly Black and White”, Tierra Solida gallery, Santa Barbara, CA

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