A HOME STUDIO WITH DORIS JOSOVITZ

Doris Josovitz and her husband signed the papers for their Brooklyn brownstone the day their son was due. "We ended signing two days after my due date…lucky he was late," the artist laughs. The young and creative couple had previously been living the loft life in South Williamsburg, yet concrete floors and stellar views of the East River couldn't make up for concrete space. "When we had our first child, we were able to carve out a nook for her bedroom. But when we were expecting our second, we realized we had outgrown the space," she says. "We loved our neighborhood and community, but creating a home for our growing family became important to us." She wouldn't know then, but the new home would grow to foster more than just Doris's family. 


The first few months in the new Crown Heights house were a blur of babies and blueprints. While Doris - on maternity leave with their newborn son and eighteenth-month-old daughter - stayed lofted in Williamsburg, her husband - who has a design and build company - started renovating. The kitchen moved from the garden level to the parlor floor, three new bathrooms were added, and vintage fixtures were added throughout. 

Construction wasn't finished before they moved in, but the family was settled before the dust. "We love our home - it is a place we created together as a family. I love seeing how over the last 12 years, it has evolved and changed to fit all of our needs," she looks back fondly. "We've formed an amazing community of friends that are all within walking distance from us. Our kids go to the local public school, which is four blocks away, and we love seeing the same faces every morning as we walk them to school." 

Mirage No. 1

Doris Josovitz

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Dawn Sculptural Vessel

Doris Josovitz

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Doris brings the same sentimental values to the curation of, or, more accurately, the cobbling together of the home's interior - it's about the journey. "The pieces we add to our house often find us; we don't go looking for them specifically," she says. Amongst some beloved fine art gifted by artist friends like Mike Perry (a Crown Heights neighbor), painter Jenny Williams, and sculptor Jeremy Lawson, the brownstone is filled with found treasures. Between Doris' wandering eye and her husband's business, the pair have stumbled upon some favorite pieces at auctions, estate sales, the side of the road, even dumpster dives. The objects Doris cherishes most remain consistent with her value system - terracotta wall planters with faces skillfully sculpted into their surface by José García Antonio, a 75-year-old blind potter from San Antonio Castillo Velasco in the municipality of Ocótlan, Mexico, who the couple spent an inspirational day working alongside; a pair of original Bauhaus scissor lamps found at a flea market in Berlin; and a Herkimer diamond nestled in a dolomite limestone rock, mined two summers ago on a camping trip, that now floats magically around the family's house. 

Melody Sculptural Vessel

Doris Josovitz

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Mirage No. 4

Doris Josovitz

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As the home has slowly evolved over the years, another evolution has been populating its (now many) shelves. When the family moved in, Doris was in the midst of a twenty-year career designing women's apparel. Which, while rewarding in ways, had left her creatively unfulfilled. "At some point, it was just a job," she remembers. "As a child, I took some ceramics classes on and off but could never figure out how to center on the wheel. The urge to do something creative with my hands came back a few years ago - just something for myself. To create something that would last more than a season." She turned again to ceramics.

While certainly more adept than she was as a child, wheel-throwing proved creatively limiting for Doris. Organic, free-flowing shapes - impossible to form on a wheel - had been filling her mind for some time, impossible to extract. Then, in a wave of kismet that seemingly reverberated throughout this issue, the societal chasm that was the novel coronavirus gave Doris another gift of space. 

Mirage No. 2

Doris Josovitz

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Feu Sculptural Vessel

Doris Josovitz

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The early, endless days of Covid allowed Doris the time she needed to play with her clay, "I had time just to create, to learn how to hand-build larger pieces. I didn't have sketches; I just built." The freedom, at first, was overwhelming. "I hadn't had such creative freedom since art school, and even then, you were creating for a project or assignment," she says. But, soon, once-figment forms filled the brownstone, and Lost Quarry was born.

Compelled by her tenuous relationship with the fashion industry and its disproportionate environmental impact, Doris had not only turned to clay for creative exploration and escape. She had felt the pull of mother earth and our collective need to slow down the modern-day manufacturing cycle to allow for special, well-made items that stand the test of time. Lost Quarry is the product of that pull: a space to create high-quality, heirloom pieces that are both functional and sustainable. Although not an actual place, Lost Quarry is the lyrical manifestation of Doris's ceramic practice. Like how home is also a feeling. 

Sotol Sculptural Vessel

Doris Josovitz

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Mirage No. 3

Doris Josovitz

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The now-business has taken up the most physical space, however, within the walls of the Crown Heights brownstone, where a home studio has blended seamlessly into the well-lived home. "We created the workbench out of a slab of black marble along with new and reclaimed wood blind shelves - in part for beauty, in part for fiction," Doris smiles. She tries to keep the parlor floor workspace tidy, beyond the permanent lineup of varying-degrees-of-dry biomorphic sculptures. A few shells and rocks from recent travels dot her desk, and a notebook is always nearby, ready for a fresh sketch. "I want this space to feel light and inspirational," she says. 

The catalyst for Lost Quarry is always close to mind - Doris uses limited water and reclaims all her clay. Practices that also help her manage the inevitable mess a ceramic studio produces. "I have a strict mopping and vacuuming process that I do daily," she makes clear. Sometimes the dust is easier to corral than the art: "I'm always impressed that the kids respect the moments when vessels are drying all over the house. You can find a mini basketball game happening around my ceramics, and my son knows to be careful."

Dragon Vase

Doris Josovitz

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Mirage No. 5

Doris Josovitz

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Beyond the literal mess, Doris also deals with the mental chaos of balancing living and working in the same space. However, the at-home studio setup's benefits far outweigh any challenges it might present. Working on and off throughout the day allows Doris to sculpt when inspiration strikes, maximize deadlines, eat snacks with her kids after school and then return to work. Moreover, clay is a waiting game. "Making larger pieces, you can only build so much without waiting for it to harden a little, or it will collapse," she says. "Being able to live with the pieces I am creating helps their shapes, sizes, and styles evolve." The brownstone's marble mantels make the perfect resting place in progress.


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