When Fishing Meets Clay

Studio Tech Guest Blogger: Mark Chuck

Mark Chuck: For as long as I can remember, I’ve been drawn to water, and the aquatic life that live in it. I love fishing for trout. Trout are streamlined, and they move through the water effortlessly — like hawks soaring in the wind. Their colors are so beautiful and the shape of each fish is unique. I was fortunate to grow up in a rural area of Pennsylvania surrounded by natural bodies of waters, and I spent most of my spare time fishing in the rivers and lakes near my home. Whenever I caught a fish, I would stop and examine it before I let it go. Eventually, there came a time when I felt it was more about observing than catching. Little did I know that all those years spent in the great outdoors were actually preparing me for life as an artist. The best was yet to come.

I entered Keystone College in La Plume, Pennsylvania, as a graphic design major with a goal to pursue a career in web design. While I ended up changing my major, everything I learned about graphic design and web development proved to be important in my career down the road. I need to be skilled in photography, graphic design, web design, marketing, social media, and videography to share and promote my work as a ceramic sculptor. I regularly create computerized images to print over my hand-painted ceramic work. I photograph each piece I make, and just recently I started producing underwater fishing videos for my YouTube channel. Everything that I learned in College, from printmaking to photography, I now use to create and promote my work.

“Hada XI” Porcelain 9” x 8” x 7”
“Hada XI” Porcelain 9” x 8” x 7”

While I enjoyed studying design, I discovered working in clay was even more fulfilling. As soon as I touched clay, I was hooked. Finding my love for taking a lump of clay and transforming it into a three-dimensional object brought me complete joy. I decided to marry both loves, which has brought me to a wonderful place in my life. By day, I work as the Studio Technician here on campus, and in my spare time I work on my own pieces, and, of course, I fish.

The time I spend fishing inspires and fuels my work, reflecting the colors and shapes of the fish I catch and release, and their environment. I am guided by memories of my interactions with the air, wind, water, light, and the magnificent creatures that live in the water, and briefly, at the end of my line. I incorporate aquatic life into everything I create. My pieces are made from Porcelain, a translucent clay that illuminates the colors on my work. When glazing, each cup turns out a little different even though similar colors are used, which I love.

Over the years, I’ve participated in a number of juried shows, which helped me develop a following, and build a network of fellow ceramic artists. Aspiring artists should submit as often as they can, and never stop learning new techniques. My work has progressed over time because I’ve grown, personally and professionally. I’ve reached a point where I can disconnect from social media and the distractions of everyday life, and really focus on what I’m doing in a deep and meaningful way. I think this comes through in my work.

I’ve been fly fishing a lot this year, and it has inspired my latest body of work. As I fish in the stream, I catch glimpses of fish rising and jumping out of the water. Knowing what fly to use is crucial. It’s only when I find that perfect size and shape that I start catching. My new work is my interpretation of the fish when I see them rising in the water. Sometimes I won’t know they’re there until I see a flash deep underwater, or a splash. It requires patience and focus, just like clay.

Much like the artistic process, the gift in fishing is the element of surprise. The true reward is communing with nature, and relishing in those moments when a fish is pulled from the water. It is in the strike, and the action. I see it and touch it, and I marvel at the beauty of the creation I hold gently in my hands before releasing it back to its home. I have the same experience each time I pull a newly-fired piece out of the kiln. Each piece is a reflection of my passions, vision, and spirit. Through teapots, platters, and vessels, I bring fish to the table.

Mark Chuck holds a Bachelor of Visual Arts degree with a concentration in Ceramic Sculpture from Keystone College in La Plume, Pennsylvania. To learn more about Mark Chuck Ceramics, visit to www.markchuck.com or follow on Instagram @markchuckceramics and check out his YouTube page: Mark Chuck Fish Tales.

Mark Chuck Ceramics
Mark Chuck Ceramics


Ceramics – Bachelor of Fine Arts: Studio Art Track
Ceramics attracts and involves the art student whose career objectives may involve architecture, interior design, art education and the related applied arts industry. If you’re interested in a career in ceramics, the commercial world of clay covers a myriad of products, from dinnerware to tile and other industrial ceramic products. As an independent potter, you’ll discover a viable vocation and a market that grows annually in size, scope, and earning potential. 

Graduate Programs in Ceramics

The Master of Arts 36-credit Studio Arts program is intended for graduates of schools and departments of art/art education who want to develop their talents as studio artists. Study with outstanding practitioners in these fields acts as springboard for further professional growth and education. The Master of Arts in Art Therapy is a 60-credit program that follows guidelines for art therapy training recommended by the American Art Therapy Association.

The Master of Fine Arts is a 60-credit program in Visual Arts designed to provide professional emphasis for persons with an intense commitment to their art who intend to become serious professional artists and/or would like to teach at the college level. Currently there are three areas of concentration: Graphic Design, Illustration, and Photography. 

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