Joel Cherrico got into the pottery wheel as a senior at Xavier High School. Now living and working in Saint Joseph, Minn. while in school at the College of Saint Benedict/Saint John’s University he’s taken his knack for making pottery to a sculptural and functional level. He’s inspired by speed, the great outdoors (especially skiing) and making pieces that people can use as well as appreciate. He’ll be back in Cedar Rapids for a pottery show Saturday that’s as fast as his pottery technique. Don’t miss it. So what is it that you make? I work on the pottery wheel to make functional ceramics and sculpture using stoneware clay. I love making pottery, anything from shot glasses to butter dishes. I also make large sculptural vessels and abstract sculpture installations. My sculptural works and pottery inspire and feed off of each other. If you had only three words to describe what you do what would they be? Fast-paced pots. What inspires you? I love the contemporary ceramics scene. Simon Levin, JD Jorgenson, Bill Gossman and Don Reitz are just a few of my heroes. I’m also inspired by the natural world, especially Rocky Mountain landscapes. I’ve been a downhill skier all my life and my signature on each pot actually represents a mountain landscape. I make pots like I ski: as fast as possible while staying in control. Lastly, music is a huge influence in my work. Much of my time in the studio takes away from my love of playing guitar and rock music. Listening to loud, fast music while making pottery motivates me to work quickly, but more importantly to have fun in the studio. What’s the best part about being a creative person? Seeing people eat and drink from my pottery really blows me away. It’s great to be able to wake up everyday and make artwork full-time, but I want to make things that will enrich peoples’ lives through their use. Sipping morning coffee from your favorite mug is a daily reminder of the relationship with that piece of art, and the relationship changes and develops over the years and years spent using that pot. Do you remember the first craft project you ever tried? Do Legos count? I was obsessed with Legos growing up. My mom was also a huge motivator, encouraging my artwork all throughout my childhood. I used to eat the store-bought play dough, so she cooked a homemade recipe so I could nibble on my school projects while making them. When you become rich and famous for your work, then what will you do? Does pottery have a place in Hollywood? I’m not too sure but at this point I don’t like the idea of a $10,000 coffee mug. I don’t want my pottery to be too expensive for people to use, but I also don’t want to make $10 an hour for the rest of my life.  Maybe I’ll try to make crazy/awesome sculptures like Salvador Dali’s paintings and still have $20 coffee mugs for the average Joe or Jane. — KATIE