Art Department ceramist Jeff Downing discovered clay while studying music composition at the State University of New York at Purchase. His first ceramics class there changed the course of his career. Drawn by its reputation for experimentation in the arts, he moved to California where he began to explore hand-built clay sculpture under the tutelage of the artists Stephen DeStaebler and Bill Albright. He went on to receive his MFA from SFSU in 1992.
Jeff Downing’s sculpture is informed by the humor and pop sensibility of the California artist Robert Arneson; by the stripped-down economy of Alberto Giacometti’s figures; and by the spontaneity and energy characteristic of the work of Pablo Picasso. Downing’s work with dog imagery depends on chance discovery of form, but seeks to invoke feelings concerning the human condition and our varied relationship with the natural world. In Jeff Downing’s world view, studying the dog – with all of its expressiveness, intelligence and sensitivity - leads us to a better understanding of the connection between culture and nature.