Henry James Haver Crissman was born August 31, 1990 in Midland, MI, the son of two veterinarians and youngest of three children. He earned a BFA in Craft/Ceramics from the College for Creative Studies in Detroit, MI in 2012 and his MFA in Ceramics at the New York State College of Ceramics at Alfred University in 2015. He has exhibited both nationally and internationally and received grants, fellowships and residencies to support his dynamic projects exploring ceramics as a avenue for arts education, advocacy and critique. In addition to his personal practice, he works collaboratively with Hamilton Poe, and is a core member of the Socially Engaged Craft Collective. He and his fiance (Virginia Torrence), dog (Petunia) and two cats (Bob and Mona) now live in Hamtramck, MI where he maintains a studio and teaches at Marygrove College, Wayne State University and Pewabic Pottery.
Formally trained as a ceramicist, I have built on the historically communal and cross cultural applications of functional pottery; conducting projects that have manipulated its production, distribution and use. Absurdist forms and performances have explored art as a means to facilitate actual community services, while simultaneously questioning traditional economies of art, the fetishization of objects, the glorification of the artistic persona, and the paradox of altruism in artmaking. Functional ceramics, experimental kilns, hand painted signs, propaganda, documentation, social media and my physical presence have served as my primary mediums, frequently operating both as individual artworks and as a means for facilitating site-specific and participatory actions.
My collaborative partner, Hamilton Poe, and I have a stream-of-consciousness practice where we follow every lead and refuse to do anything that we don’t both entirely agree on. This tends to manifest itself as an endurance exercise in rhetoric often working around notions of value and craft as they relate to improvisation, the impossibility of perfect communication, and conceptual art as a form for personal and public emancipation. Our work is both an autonomous practice and an extraordinary supplement to my personal art practice.
Working to be the best human, friend, community member, citizen, artist, activist, educator, son, brother, fiance, etc.., I can, is the task at hand every single day. My art is that process.