top of page

PJ Hargraves is a ceramic artist from Philadelphia, currently residing in Northeast Ohio. As an enthusiastic artist and educator, PJ always finds fun in the studio. Hargraves serves as the full-time 3D Technician at the University of Akron, overseeing the ceramics, sculpture, and metalsmithing facilities and operations. In addition, PJ teaches ceramics at Cuyahoga Community College and Continuing Ed at the Cleveland Institute of Art. Before relocating to Ohio, PJ was an Artist in Residence at the LUX Center for the Arts in Lincoln, Nebraska. Hargraves received an MFA from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln in 2020 and a BFA in Ceramics from Tyler School of Art at Temple University in 2017, along with a k-12 Art Education Certificate.


PJ Hargraves navigates the uncertain times we live in by creating positive, playful sculptures, believing that focusing on joy is essential to thriving during hardship. With a watchful reverence for life, PJ finds beauty and hope in the natural world's abundance. Using playful form language and intuitive mark-making, PJ invents a stylized array of plant life in contained environments, allowing for the reinvention and intentional exaggeration of landscapes and plant forms in clay with a whimsical touch. These fantasized pieces invite viewers to extend their imagination to the joyous moments in the world and return to an innocent sense of wonder.

Hargraves' studio practice presents an overtly optimistic alternative to the prevalent cultural pessimism, capturing simple joy and delight through the act of making. The sculpted trees are methodical and rhythmic, inspired by both wild and manicured plants, but constructed within the limitations of coil building and clay's tensile strength. Emphasizing an experimental spirit, PJ constantly takes risks with the making process and materials, finding beauty in the immediacy and materiality of clay. Working spontaneously and playfully, PJ imbues pieces with palpable energy, combining reverence for traditional folk craft with flamboyant, overstated elements using materials like Egyptian paste and beer bottle glass. Inspired by Pennsylvania Dutch folk symbols and metaphors of good fortune, perseverance, hopefulness, and strength, PJ's high-spirited objects often feature stylized birds and flowers. These imagined scenes celebrate life's abundance and ceramic processes, offering positivity and delight through optimistic symbols and lush ceramic surfaces, stimulating playful imagination and emphasizing the importance of finding moments of joy in increasingly complicated daily lives.

PJ Hargraves: Bird Cordial Cup

    bottom of page