“To divine the significance of pattern is the same as to understand beauty itself.”
Born in Allentown Pennsylvania, Jeff spent his childhood building model cars and getting a feel for clay. His interest piqued when he took a college level ceramic class in High school, which then led him to go on to art school. With a BFA at the Cleveland Institute of Art in Cleveland, OH he furthered his education and received his MFA at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville, in Edwardsville, IL. He went on to teach ceramics at multiple locations and his work was exhibited throughout the United States in exhibitions and the highest quality craft shows and art festivals. Jeff maintained a studio in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania since 1988.
Inspired by historical ceramics, primarily Japanese and Chinese but all cultures as well, his ceramic idols included Ogata Kenzan, Shoji Hamada, Michael Simon and Clary Illian. When looking at his pots you can clearly see his love for Chiyogami - the hand printed papers of Japan. His now deceased parents and early teachers, Bill Clark and Joe Zeller, as well as Dan Anderson, after graduate school, supported Jeff throughout his ceramicist career.
Working in a six-week cycle – four weeks for making and two weeks for glazing – Kleckner would start with a sketch and work with wheel thrown porcelain. Using his forms as a guide he would then apply glazes, slips, and resists in a manner that reflected his passion for pattern. The clay body was very important to his process, using slips on leather hard clay, resists and oxide washes on raw glaze, Jeff focused on form, surface, and pattern in hopes to convey beauty and visual tension to his audience. Over time, his pots evolved by becoming more specific and complex in their concerns. To Jeff, the studio was a refuge, “Clay is not necessarily relaxing. It can be very rewarding, but is a difficult material to work with.” After all of the years spent working with clay, it would still surprise Jeff how much there was left to know; he said he would still learn something new each and every day that he was in the studio. What kept Jeff engaged in the making of pots was the rich history and complex process of ceramics. By thinking of pottery as an avenue to explore color, line, surface and form, he discovered a wellspring of inexhaustible creative opportunities.
One thing that Jeff wanted people to know about his work was that it cost more for him to make work than for what people paid for it, both in his time and energy as well as his economics. He worked very hard and dedicated patience and practice to each piece, making sure each was individual and unique.
We, being the Gallery, appreciate Jeff’s craftsmanship and his attention to detail. His forms are stunning and precise, his decoration is skillfully executed, and his pots are truly a joy just to be near. We were so saddened by his sudden passing. From our director, Anthony: "Jeff’s passing was and still is a very sad discovery for us. I always had a deep respect for Jeff and his work. I had an immediate attraction to his work the first time I ever saw it. That was well over 20 years ago and I’ve included him everywhere I’ve curated or run since then. I’ll miss the excitement of opening new work from him."