For Joshua Schottenstein, Pottery is a Healing Art

The artist, who has a ceramics studio and shop in the Open Air building, dabbled in the family business before discovering that pottery can help people struggling with mental health challenges.

Brittany Moseley
Joshua Schottenstein opened a pottery studio and shop in the Open Air building in the Old North neighborhood in Columbus.

Joshua Schottenstein found his current studio space on a bit of a whim. While delivering a batch of pottery to the second location of Emmett’s Café, he decided to explore the building. The café is located at Open Air, a trendy multiuse concept in Old North. While there, Schottenstein found an available room. “I looked in here, and I saw the beautiful natural light pouring in, and felt like it was a very inviting room,” he says. Schottenstein moved in last summer. It serves as a studio and a shop where he sells his wares and those of local artists. Columbus Monthly spoke to him about his work and future plans.

How did you get into ceramics? I stumbled into it about seven years ago. I was living in Western Massachusetts, and I had an opportunity to try it out. I took a lesson with an artist, a demonstration of the basics of throwing on the wheel. There was a really immediate connection.

How did it go from a hobby to a full-time job? I decided this summer to ramp it up to a full-time, brick-and-mortar studio and shop. I’m taking the leap of faith to do this full time and see how things pan out in this period of building up an artist business. I have intentions to get my master’s starting next year in a degree that would combine the arts and mental health counseling.

A piece of Joshua Schottenstein’s pottery

What did you do before you got into ceramics? Predominantly, I was working in marketing and also various aspects of a family business, M/I Homes, which is a local company and the company my grandfather [Irving Schottenstein] had started and my father [Bobby Schottenstein] currently runs. I also tried other jobs, too, and bounced around a bit but always had a hard time figuring out what I was most passionate [about].

Was there ever any pressure, whether self-internalized or from outside voices, to go into the family business? I think my parents have always wanted me to pursue what I feel excited to do every day, and [there was] never the kind of pressure to do what his dad did or what my dad does. It is something at times that I’ve wrestled with to some degree. … [I’m] fortunate to have options. Many people who are interested in the arts, it’s a tough nut to crack. But I’m grateful that I’ve had the ability to take time to try and pursue it.

You mentioned the mental health aspect of art. Where did the interest in combining the two come from? I found pottery when I was having some struggles with my mental health, and it gave me a sense of grounding. It slowed things down for me internally. Pottery can be a powerful tool for people who have some mental health struggles. However I’m able to help someone from a mental health perspective, I would love to be able to integrate the arts, pottery specifically, because I have some skill set there. I think it’s something I feel deep down as a driving force that I would like to pay forward.

Follow @joshua.schottenstein on Instagram to see more of his work.

This story is from the February 2023 issue of Columbus Monthly.