What began as a curiosity and admiration of Asian art and culture has grown to become the driving force in the teaching and research of Jeremiah Donovan. Since joining the department of Art and Art history in spring 1996, his work has focused on Chinese ceramic traditions and practices, which have opened doors to opportunities for research in rural China, Tibet and Korea.
During his tenure at Cortland the exhibition record of Donovan’s ceramic work spans the globe with 25 national and 12 international juried competitions. National venues have included Strictly Functional Pottery National, The Lancaster Museum of Art (PA), Craft Transformed, Fuller Museum of Art (MA), Evolving Legacies, The National Council for the Education of the Ceramic Arts Clay National (NC), Monarch National Ceramic Competition, San Angelo Museum of Fine Arts (TX), Feats of Clay, Lincoln Center for the Arts (CA), and Transforming the Traditions, Contemporary Art Center, Kansas City (MO).
Recent International exhibitions include 1000 Years of Porcelain Symposium Exhibition at the Jingdezhen Ceramic Art Museum (China), Harmony of Earth, Wind, and Fire, Biseul Art Center (Korea), International Ceramic Exhibition, Foshan Contemporary Art Museum (China), First International Ceramic Art Conference Exhibition, Yixing Ceramic Art Museum (China).
Photographs of Donovan’s ceramic work and articles he has written on the subject of his work have been published in numerous catalogues and journals, most recently in a textbook, Harmony of Earth, Wind, and Fire, published by the Biseul Art Center, Daegu, Korea, and in the Proceedings of the 1000 Year Celebration of Porcelain Symposium; International Ceramic Art and Education, Jingdezhen, China. His recent sculptural ceramic work references traditional pottery forms and processes, incorporating multiple firing methods. Donovan has been a panelist at conferences and presented papers on the subject of ceramics throughout the United States, in China and Korea.
Although art was not his initial career path, Donovan recognized the privileges of teaching at an early age. He recalls a conversation with his father many years ago in which he was told that teaching was an ‘honorable profession worthy of consideration’ and that ‘teaching was in his blood’. Now Donovan relates “ I turned 180 degrees in the other direction”. Looking back across the idealistic years of youth Donovan says, “I do believe teachers are born, not made. I am only fortunate to have found an area of study which sparks my curiosity and which I feel passionate about. I hope my students recognize that.”
After completing a Bachelors of Fine Arts at the Kansas City Art Institute in 1984, and Masters of Fine Arts, Boston University in 1986, Donovan was hired as Program Director of the Cornell Ceramics Studio, Cornell University, and taught ceramics at Tompkins Cortland Community College. He joined SUNY Cortland as lecturer in 1996 and was promoted to assistant professor in 1998.
Fellowships have enabled Donovan to visit China four of the last six summers for extended research and as a visiting professor, developing relationships among Chinese artisans and university officials. During the past years he has facilitated internships and study abroad experiences in China for SUNY students. He has developed a study abroad program, which takes 10 students each summer to Shanghai University, Yixing, and Jingdezhen, to advance the study of history, culture, and the art of China. Although Donovan specializes in Chinese ceramic art, students from every discipline within SUNY are encouraged to participate.
In 2005, Professor Jeremiah Donovan was awarded the SUNY Chancellors Award for Internationalization, for his proposal titled China Summer Study: History Culture and the Arts. The intent of this proposal is to conduct a study abroad class documenting traditional rural life in villages of central China and to continue establishing faculty and student exchanges between SUNY Cortland and universities in China. He is currently conducting research on the custom and practices of tea drinking, which began in China, for an International Exhibition of tea utensils, documenting the production of porcelain pottery in the communities surrounding the City of Jingdezhen, Jiangxi Province, China.