James C. Watkins was born in Louisville, Kentucky, in 1951 and raised in a farming family in Athens, Alabama. He is a ceramic artist living in Lubbock, Texas who has worked with clay for over 40 years. He is known for his large scale double-walled ceramic vessels and laser cut porcelain substrate tiles. He is recognized for his textured surfaces, created by using alternative firing techniques. His porcelain substrate tiles are fumed with stannous chloride and multi-fired using ferric chloride, gold and platinum luster to achieve colorful surfaces.
Academic and instructional position
Watkins is a Paul Whitfield Horn Professor Emeritus in the College of Architecture at Texas Tech University in Lubbock, Texas where he taught Architectural Ceramics and Architectural Drawing. The Horn Professorship is the highest honor that Texas Tech University bestows on members of its faculty. Horn Professorships are granted to professors in recognition of national and international distinction for outstanding research or other creative scholarly achievements.
Watkins uses his experience of growing up in the rural south during the 1950s and 60s as a source of inspiration for his signature work. His mother and father were farmers. Watkins is the oldest of six children – three boys and three girls. He grew up in a time when large cast-iron pots were still used as an essential farming utensil. His mother made soap, hominy and souse in the large black cast-iron pots. Watkins creates large double-walled ceramics forms that are inspired by the memory of helping his mother keep the fire burning hot around the cast-iron pots.