Barbara Sebastian


Personally, I love playing and working in clay and paint.

Professionally, my work in clay is in two directions.  I create small “precious” small jars, bird sculptures, teapots, etc. and, I create architectural scale wallworks that are painted.

Technically, my jars and birds are wheel-thrown, high-fired.  The birds are raven and crow images that are thrown,  then altered and reassembled.  I love playing with the birds as I add stacked or gathered objects to attach to them, that they appear to carry or stand on.  I am inspired by my surroundings, what I see, maybe for just a moment, as the raven that I saw that day in Arashiama, Japan, as it grabbed a persimmon and played with it.  Today, I am drawn to birds, to watch them gather, relate to each other, and play with objects carried, dropped, eaten.

I love the process of clay, and, with it, the endless ability to entertain new ideas.

Whatever is being created, it is usually metaphoric;   it is all a part of a much larger spiritual journey of discovery.  I honor the process.

Artist Statement about Clay

I work with clay because it is an art medium that is truly limitless.  Clay is both flexible and strong, capable of both abstract and realistic expression, it can be both functional and decorative.  Working with clay, the possibilities are endless.

Throwing on the wheel I feel the dynamic interaction between me, the artist, and the medium, clay, it is truly centering.  I feel the push and the pull of the clay, its resistance and pliability.  As I submerge myself in the creative process, I delight in the result.

There was an experience I had in Kyoto, Japan that has had a strong influence on my recent work.  Just before leaving Japan to come home, I saw a raven grab a persimmon and play with it.  After some time, I was inspired to create raven and persimmon sculptures on the wheel.  It was truly and exercise in surrendering to the creative process and realizing that the wheel was an amazing tool.

This moment in Japan has had an unexpected influence on my work.  The birds and the clay that created them led me on an unexpected, ever-evolving path.

I work with clay because, like art in all its facets, it brings such joy, hope, inspiration and beauty to the world.

I honor the process.

Barbara painting mural at SAS Institute


Born in San Diego, California, in 1942.  I came to the San Francisco Bay Area to attend school at the University of California, Berkeley.  I majored in Math, Physical Education, and Philosophy in the 60’s.  After graduation in 1965, I became a tenured High School teacher for nine years. In 1975, I gave it all up to become a full-time artist, mostly working in Ceramics.

Then in 1979, I went back to school to receive my Masters of Fine Arts from San Jose University, in California, by 1985.  In 2001, I travelled to Japan and had a very inspirational experience.  In a very surprising moment, I watched as a Raven flew into a tree, grabbed a persimmon, began eating and tossing and playing with it, as the wind blew and the rain began.  The orange of the persimmon and the black of his feathers inspired my sculptures and teapots that are a major part of my work today.

Today, my ceramic work is throughout the U.S., Canada, as well as in Europe and Asia. I am so grateful to be working in the ceramics that I love.



1985  Master of Fine Arts, MFA, Plastic Arts/Sculpture, San Jose State University, CA
1982  Bachelor of Fine Arts, BFA, Ceramics, San Jose State University, San Jose, CA
1966  Standard Lifetime Teaching Credential, University of California, Berkeley, CA
1965  Bachelor of Arts, Physical Education/Mathematics, UC Berkeley, Berkeley, CA


2016  The Smithsonian Craft Show, National Building Museum, Washington D.C.
2015  One-Person Show at Roscoe Ceramics Gallery, Oakland, CA
2015  Best of Category Award at Scottsdale Arts Festival, Scottsdale, AZ
2015  One-Person Show at Roscoe Ceramics Gallery, Oakland, CA
2014  Best of Category Award at La Quinta Fine Arts Festival, La Quinta, CA
2013  Raven Teapot in 2nd Edition of book 500 Teapots
2012  Golden Gate Bridge Store, Cups, San Francisco, CA
2012  Oakland Museum of Art, Store, Oakland, CA
2012  Santa Barbara Museum of Art, Store, Santa Barbara, CA
2011  deYoung Museum of Art, Store, San Francisco, CA
2011  Best of Show, Southwest Arts Festival, Indio, CA
2010  The Smithsonian Craft Show, National Building Museum, Washington DC
2009  Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Teapots, Los Angeles, CA
2009  Japanese American Museum of Art, Museum Store, Los Angeles, CA
2009  “Out of the Fire” Falkirk Center for the Arts, San Rafael, CA
2009  AWARD of EXCELLENCE, Mill Valley Fall Arts Festival, Mill Valley, CA
2009  El Camino Medical Center, Wall-work “Canyon Dreams,” Mountain View, CA
2008  Museum of Craft+Design, “Birds and Their Dwellings” San Francisco, CA
2008  BEST of SHOW, Saratoga Rotary Art Festival, Saratoga, CA
2008  Mural, Fit City Athletic Club, Wenatchee, WA
2007  BEST of SHOW, Sausalito Art Festival, Sausalito, CA
2006  Mural, City Athletic Club, Alamogordo, New Mexico
2005  The 3rd World Ceramic Biennale, HONORABLE MENTION, Icheon, Korea
2004  DIRECTORS AWARD, Palo Alto Art Center ACGA Special Exhibition, Palo Alto, CA
2003  14th Annual California Clay Competition, Leslie Ceramics Award, The Artery, Davis, CA
2002  CLAY TIMES MAGAZINE, Cover and article
2000  Solo Exhibition, Shi Lai Buddhist Temple, Hacienda Heights, CA
2000  Mural, SAS Instiute, Lobby, North Carolina
1999  10th Annual California Clay Competition, CREATIVE CERAMICS AWARD, Davis, CA
1999  California Design ’99, Contract Design Center, San Francisco, CA
1996  Fletcher Challenge Ceramics Award Exhibition, Takapuna, New Zealand
1996  Quantum Art Exhibit, BEST of SHOW, Milpitas, CA
1993  “Year of the American Craft” Syntex Gallery, Palo Alto, CA
1991  “Monoprint/Monotype,”  Arts Council of San Mateo County, Belmont, CA
1990  American Craft Museum Library, New York, NY
1989  Joanne Chappell Gallery, One-Person Exhibition, San Francisco, CA
1988  “Figurative Ceramic Constructions” Susan Cummins Gallery, Mill Valley, CA
1987  43rd Ceramics Annual, Scripps College, Claremont, CA
1986  “West Coast Clay” Civic Arts Gallery, Walnut Creek, CA
1985  Perception Gallery, Ann O’Hanlon, Fort Mason, CA
1984  “Painted, Tinted, Tainted Sculpture” San Jose Museum of Art, San Jose, CA
1984  “Contemporary American Heritage” Elaine Potter Gallery, San Francisco, CA
1983  “Beyond Words” San Jose Institute of Contemporary Art, San Jose, CA


Association of Clay and Glass Artists, ACGA, Past President
Women’s Building Craft Advisory Committee, Celebration of Craftswomen, San Francisco, CA
American Craft Council, Member, New York, NY
Bellevue Museum of Art, Member, Bellevue, WA
Asian Art Museum, Member, San Francisco, CA