John Neely has taught ceramics for 28 years, and has exhibited widely, in the United States, New Zealand, China, Korea, Australia, Japan and Yugoslavia. Most recently he has held workshops and lectured in Arizona, Kansas, North Carolina, Ohio, Tennessee, California, Colorado, New Jersey, Iowa and Wyoming. He has also been active abroad in China, Norway, New Zealand, Australia, Taiwan, Korea and New Zealand. Not only has he written about ceramics in numerous publications but others have written about him. Richard Zakin writes in Ceramics: Ways of Creation that “it is not easy to say whether John is essentially a utilitarian potter, a potter whose work attests to his immersion in Japanese culture and ceramics, a technical ceramist, or an inventive ceramist. He balances all of these characteristics in his work.”
I first traveled to Japan when I was nineteen years old, and spent the better part of the next eleven or twelve years there. Although my initial interest in Japan was sparked by some awareness of medieval stonewares and the writings of Bernard Leach about the modern folk art movement, what captured my attention as a resident was quite different. Wrapped up in the ordinary details of day-to-day life my focus shifted to the needs of the contemporary kitchen and table top....While the teapots I make are invariably functional, I am certainly not dogmatic about utility. I think of utility as a kind of continuum, with the generic or universal idea of containment at one end, and specific, focused, single purpose tools at the other. The teapot, a "machine" for brewing and serving tea, would be found at the specific end, but it also serves as a vehicle for my explorations into the materials and processes of ceramics. My approach lies somewhere between that of the alchemist and that of the scientist; discovery, rather than expression, is my primary motivation.