Jennifer Wankoff

Ever since she was a little girl Jennifer Wankoff has loved making things. She spent hours in her parents' basement on the workbench, her engineer father helping her construct projects of wood, model cars, leather, beads, even build a darkroom. Today, all grown up and with a child of her own, the basement studio is Jennifer's favorite room of the house. Jennifer became a potter after a trip to Israel in 1997 where she learned the art of ceramics from one of Kibbutz Kfar Hanasi’s founders. Along with teaching ceramics, Renee used Hebrew terms and infused the class with Jewish traditions and history. While living on the Kibbutz, Jennifer also worked in a plant nursery and in the beautiful fields overlooking the Golan Heights. She then apprenticed with a Jerusalem based artist in porcelain sculptural Judaica and worked with new Ethiopian immigrants who are known for their colorful embroidered biblical scenes as well as sculptural ceramics and Judaica. Israel immersed Jennifer in a diverse Jewish cultural world of folk art and introduced her to the sabra's deep connection with Israel's land and agriculture. Jennifer's current works are wheel thrown, often faceted with a wire, and then bellied out from the inside creating movement inspired by nature’s ubiquitous spiral. The sections then become a guide for patterned glaze decorating or as a background for imagery. Of particular inspiration to her glazing is Persian patterning on pottery, the designs used in historic marriage contracts (Ketubah) and the traditional art of paper cutting. She also represents images such as the wheat sheaf; one of Israel’s cherished seven species of fruits and grains as described in the Torah. Designing pottery that can be used and appreciated daily in the home is Jennifer's passion but it has been especially rewarding and challenging for her to make Judaica ritual pieces to be used weekly for Shabbat and throughout the year for holidays. She enjoys crafting objects that reflect her love of Jewish culture and honor the earth and its beauty. Whether drinking a simple cup of coffee from one of Jennifer's mugs or saying prayers over candles with her candlesticks, we hope that Jennifer's pottery brings its owners a moment of beauty and appreciation for the ritual for many years.
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