If you ask CJ Wells what brought him to Tulsa, he’ll say, “An ‘87 Toyota pick-up truck.” He’d been throwing mud at a spinning wheel for a decade by then, but it was at the University of Tulsa under the guidance of Professor Tom Manhart that he got some formal training and earned his MFA in ceramics. He still likes to call himself a craftsman, though; he thinks there’s too much baggage wrapped up in being an “artist.” “Hell, we’re just making things out of mud,” he likes to say. In 2003, he opened Third Street Clayworks, a pottery studio where he teaches college students and anyone else who wants to get their hands dirty. When not at the wheel, Wells is a chain-smoking, coffee-drinking poet, who occasionally likes to strum his out-of-tune guitar.
Originally published in This Land, Vol. 5, Issue 22, November 15, 2014.