Photography Credit:
Image courtesy of the artist, Photograph by Jodi Miller

Mary Jo Bole
Birth Date:


Artist Gallery
In 1956, Mary Jo Bole was born in Cleveland, Ohio, a city that would greatly impact her future work. She experienced Cleveland as a faded industrial city, and one that was moving into the punk aesthetic of the 1970s. Living through this time period added a sardonic wit and humor to her works. As a child, taking a shortcut through a cemetery to reach her local bakery is one of the memories that causes her work to focus on death and the passage of time. Growing up with a family that revered their Victorian culture and kept the pieces from this era also affected her. Mary Jo Bole earned her BFA from the University of Michigan in 1979 and her MFA from Alfred State College in 1982. From 1980 to 2011 she taught at various places, including as a Ceramics Professor for The Ohio State University. In all her work, Mary Jo states that she is trying to face a difficulty in life. "The Foot That Stepped There" is no different. When she made the "shoe cup," she was thinking about aging, and her sister who had been diagnosed with breast cancer - a disease that would eventually claim her life a year later. Mary Jo said that she was thinking of a child's foot that no longer fits in the Mary Jane style shoe, about youth, and about being carefree at that age. She was also thinking about traveling, and passing in and out of places, as she traveled to many places for artist residencies during this time period. An imprint of a key and the words "MADE IN CHINA" grace the bottom of the shoe. Mary Jo doesn't remember why the key is there, but thinks it may be an obtuse thought about fleeting time, or a key from a previous address. The mystery is almost more fun than knowing, and causes us to contemplate what it could mean in the context that she presents. Today, most of Mary Jo's work has a heavy Victorian influence and includes handmade books. Many of her pieces can be found in museums around the world, and her career includes a long list of exhibitions, lectures, and publications.