“Less is more” is the motto of the ceramic artist, Ulrich Witzmann.The essentials of Ulrich Witzmann’s creations are clarity, originality,and functionality. With few exceptions, each of his pieces of art is thrown on the potter’s wheel to create a unique piece with its own character.
Born in 1954 in Schleswig-Holstein, Germany, Witzmann finishedhis 3-year-potter’s apprenticeship in 1973. He then worked eighteen months at the Barbara Stehr Studio and a further three and a half years in the Witthüs Pottery on the Northern German Island of Sylt. In 1981 he earned a degree in ceramic arts in Höhr-Grenzhausen and also graduated with the title of Ceramic Master Craftsman.
His first experience abroad took place in ESLAU-Ceramics in Sengeløse, just outside of Copenhagen. There he participated in the development of prototypes for the serial production of household ceramics.
From 1984-88, he worked in Cajamarca, Peru as an integrated skilled advisor for the Center for International Migration and Development (CIM/GTZ) in an interdisciplinary Development Project sponsored by the University of Cajamarca.
In the teaching workshop of Aylambo-Cajamarca in Peru, Witzmann trained potters to produce and sell their wares at local markets. Together with them and in teamwork with his peruvian wife Monica, Witzmann developed ceramic materials and techniques which made use of the community’s local resources. Given the area’s critical water shortage, lack of electricity, and severely limited budgets, the economic utilization of resources was a top priority of the project. The ultimate goal was to help the local peasant potters create and sell pottery which would allow them to have a viable existence in their local villages and thereby offer them an alternative to migration. The focus of Witzmann’s work involved the design, construction, and the optimization of wood-burning kilns for the production of lead-free glazed pottery.
After spending four years in Aylambo, Peru, Witzmann returned to Germany where he sought a creative outlet to channel the many impressions he had collected in Peru, in particular his appreciation for the preciousness of water. Witzmann was further inspired by the “Puya de Raymondii”, the Queen of the Bromeliads, which can reach a stunning height of 33 feet and grows at an altitude of 15000 feet in the untamed landscape of the Peruvian highlands.
Since opening his Nieder-Olm ceramic studio in 1990, these powerful impressions have continued to serve as the inspiration for Witzmann’s WaterART Fountains CACTUS.
For indoors and out, Witzmannn’s original pieces create a sensual oasis for today’s work and living spaces. Aside from the aesthetics of his creations, his artwork also provides a comfortable environment in otherwise dry, centrally heated rooms and helps create a pleasant ambiance.
In 2002, Witzmann won an excellence craftsmanship award for his WaterART CACTUS series. Along with the award, Witzmann’s art was given the following commendation:
“Through their beveled surfaces and multi-colored ceramic forms, Ulrich Witzmann’s impressive WaterART succeed in infusing water with life. First-class craftsmanship accentuates the superior quality of each piece.”
Throughout his career, Ulrich Witzmann has participated in several recognized competitions and received numerous prizes.
For example,Witzmann’s WaterART won first place in the competition, “Innovative Brunnen” (Innovative Fountains) for the World’s Fair EXPO2000 in Hannover, Germany. In 2003, his work was incorporated into the historic market square in Nierstein am Rhein and in 2007, he was commissioned by the city of Nieder-Olm to design a place to honor the city’s Spanish sister, L’Alcúdia. In 1996, Witzmann became a finalist in the international competition “Spertus Judaica” in Chicago, Illinois. For this competition, Witzmann created a ceramic Passover Seder Plate, which impressed the judges and viewers alike. The design and development of this piece of art marked the beginning of a new artistic channel for Witzmann and fired his interest in sacral art.
What then followed was an ensemble made of a Baptismal Font, Ambo, Paschal Candleholder, and a Votive Stand for the St. Georg Catholic Church in Nieder-Olm, Germany.
During the last couple of years Ulrich Witzmann has incursionated successfully in other fields: art in public spaces and designing memorials commemorating victims of violence events.