Josh Copus was raised in a close-knit community of farmers and artisans in Floyd County, located in the Blue Ridge Mountains of southwestern Virginia. The local traditions of crafts and agriculture, blended with the new ideas and outlook of the alternative community to form the basis of Josh’s life philosophy and instill an appreciation for art and nature that strongly influences his current work in ceramics.
During his youth in Floyd, Josh was introduced to ceramics through an opportunity to work in Tom Phelps’ pottery studio. Tom is the father of one of Josh’s childhood friends, and he offered both boys a medium for expression in a setting that was creative and unrestrictive. Tom served as a mentor to Josh during his transformative adolescence and planted the seed that has grown into Josh’s love for clay.
Since moving to North Carolina in 1998, Josh has continued to study ceramics at a variety of schools and through countless hours of working with potters in the Asheville area and throughout the nation. During this time, Josh has developed a personally significant approach to making pottery that values the importance of local materials through his studies of folk potteries throughout the world, focusing specifically on the ceramics traditions of the Korea, Japan, England, and North Carolina. By combining his experiences in the academic classroom with more traditional pottery teaching models, Josh’s work references historical forms and processes while remaining relevant to the contemporary art world of our age.
Since graduating from UNCA in the spring of 2007, Josh has continued his involvement in the Clay Space Co-op, a cooperative studio that he founded in the River Arts District of Asheville during 2003. In addition to his work at the Clay Space, Josh has begun establishing his own pottery on his land in Marshall, NC. Using funds provided by the Windgate Fellowship, he designed and built a 27ft long woodfired climbing chamber kiln in the summer of 2007. Since then, Josh has added two more large wood-burning kilns and is currently working on the construction of a studio adjacent to the kiln site.
When he is not building and making things, Josh spends most of his time on his land growing crops, swimming in rivers, operating a shovel, and constantly searching for interesting materials to build and make things with.