Joe Hatzfeld, a ceramic artist in Johnson County, began his journey as an artist during his junior year of high school initially to simply fulfill a graduation requirement. As an avid football player, he had been labeled a “jock” his entire life and never considered himself to be a creative person.
“I never thought of myself as someone who was gifted in the arts because I had tried basic drawing and was not good at it, so I gave up on the thought of ever being an artistic person,” Hatzfeld explained. “When I hesitantly enrolled in beginning ceramics as a way to fulfill an art requirement, little did I know that it would become my favorite class I took during my high school career.”
Hatzfeld started like everyone else in his class, sitting down to a circle spinning intimidatingly fast and being completely overwhelmed by his teacher’s skill.
“I sat down at the wheel and failed a few times, got some stains on my shoes, and had some clay hit the wall. But eventually, I saw a piece that went from a ball of clay to an awkward container that my loving parents called a ‘cup.’ Even though that creation was hard to hold and extremely heavy, I was hooked immediately.”
Hatzfeld moved on to the advanced and independent study courses that led him to find his own style. Still a new artist, he is always exploring techniques to use, and for inspiration he follows people such as Eric Landon and Matt Horne.
“As a high school senior this past year, I spent nearly three hours a day in the ceramics room because it is how I relax. It gives me the opportunity to escape from the chaos that is life and just put all of my energy into being creative.”
Hatzfeld’s art has been featured in competitions such as the Merriam Art Festival and the Johnson County Shooting Stars program.
“I always loved using my hands to throw the football or to build a desk with my grandpa, but I never thought that I could use my hands to make art.”