Jordan Colon is a Brooklyn-based potter, painter, and former farm-to-table restauranteur. I visited the artist in his quaint Brooklyn home on a wintery February afternoon where they talked art, spirituality, and Colon's Pennsylvania roots. Xuyoni staff also toured the lovely Noble Showroom, a gallery space established by Colon and his business partner Incausa to showcase indigenous Brazilian crafts and Colon’s diverse pottery collection.
Jordan Colon isn’t too fond of the word minimalism. In fact, he claims he’s allergic to it. “It’s a broad term that is often used incorrectly,” says Colon. Like modernism.
To drive home his point, the ceramicist-painter takes a grey pottery cup that’s sitting on his long poplar table. With his fingers, he then gestures towards the streaks of purple that run through the glazed cup — streaks of purple so subtle that my eyes hadn’t caught them at a cursory glance.
“There are galaxies in there. You see a lot of dimension and complexity,” says Colon — which minimalism doesn’t do justice to — the word too imprecise.
I then ask what word Colon would instead use to describe his art. He lands on austere.
Like his pottery, Colon’s quaint Brooklyn home, which Colon endearingly calls his “country home in the middle of the city,” also evinces a sense of the austere. Sage is burning in an incense holder that Colon created. Outside the window, the warm afternoon light hits the snow-capped roofs, penetrating Colon’s art studio which conveniently is situated next to his bedroom.
The Brooklyn artist’s country home is also tinged with his Pennsylvania roots. His oldest brother Jonathan built the table that Colon and I are sitting around and hanging behind Colon is a bookshelf filled with art books that his brother Josh had made.
One of six siblings, four brothers, and a sister, Colon grew up as the middle child of a large family. Colon's father worked in woodworking, while his mother lived as a housewife who made beautiful quilts before moving on to real estate- her attempt at being a “modern woman.”
For Colon, “being an artist was definitely not totally out of right field. It was something that was nurtured.” Colon credits his artistic aspirations to his oldest sibling Jonathan, who “set the tone” for the younger siblings to follow. Colon fondly recalls the art competitions that he and his siblings would enter back in their hometown of Lancaster, Pennsylvania. The Colon siblings would often take home the winning prizes.
Known primarily for his ceramics, Colon’s first artistic love however was painting. Colon recalls the nights he would spend as a teenager in his unfinished, plywood-floored attic listening to music and painting portraits of his closest friends.
Colon’s geometric, abstract paintings can be seen hanging in Noble Showroom. The gallery, located in Colon’s Brooklyn neighborhood, is serene and sparse. When you enter the shop, the smell of Palo Santo incense overtakes you and follows you as you tour through the space. Masks woven by indigenous groups in Brazil hang off the wall of the gallery while hand-woven baskets and Colon's wide-ranging pottery collection sit on shelves — looking more like artwork to be admired than items to be bought.
Besides painting and ceramics, Colon also loves to cook. In 2006, not long after moving into his Brooklyn neighborhood, Colon opened a restaurant called Eat. The vegan restaurant was something of an “experiment,” says Colon, an artist's cafe for “sensitive people in Brooklyn.”
Sourcing only locally-sourced food, Eat for Colon was a political and anti-consumerist undertaking. It was also about “making something that brings beauty and purpose and connection” says Colon. In 2014 however, Colon decided to shut down the restaurant to fully dive into his ceramic business.
While ceramics has become Colon’s main source of livelihood, Colon makes sure he is never doing one thing. He still paints and plays music with friends. He goes to museums. He draws. Colon is always learning and practicing — wanting to be better, each medium allowing him to transcend the material in different ways.
For Colon, painting is a way to bring color into his world and with it “a way of seeing things — a different perception,” while pottery provides for him an outlet to mold the earthly into a vessel both functional and beautiful.
Emphasizing the freedom to access all these different avenues of creative expression, Colon adds, “It all hits on different levels, having all these practices. There is something that elevates the spirit when making things.”
As the sun starts to set, and the snow crowning the rooftops gradually disappears from my vision, I ask Colon if he at all identifies as spiritual. Colon answers, “I can say my work is spiritual, but it’s material. It’s clay. If you pay attention to that part of your life, you realize it’s everywhere. That’s how I engage with spirituality. It’s in my work. It’s everywhere in my life."
Written by Tenzin Tsagong / Editor at Xuyoni