In Brief / Life Story



BA, Mount Holyoke College.  MFA, City University of New York. Studies at Ruskin School of Art, Oxford, UK , Oxford Polytechnic and  Bangkok Museum, Thailand. Taught and exhibited ceramics in New York City, 1970s — solo show 1977.


Career working in NGOs, Government and the UN, Phnom Penh, Cambodia.  Later at UN Women, UN Headquarters, New York; dedicated to advancing and empowering women.  Founded Libby Hawk Associates 2010. Stepped down from consulting and UN  work in 2016 to pursue art  full-time once more.


Committed to full-time art practice creating  ceramics and paintings.  Teach at Suncoast Technical College. Currently, show at Define Art Gallery, juried shows at Florida Craft/Art, St. Petersburg, regional art centers.  Member, Women Contemporary Artists. 2021: COLOR & CLAY--DUET, collaboration; recognized by Halo Arts Project with 2021 Fellowship Award.


Joan Libby Hawk’s artistic and professional journey demonstrate the richness of a multi-dimensional life and aesthetic. From liberal arts graduate of Mount Holyoke College to anti-Vietnam War and human rights activist, to artist/student living in Oxford, England, to New York City graduate studies, to a notable career in nonprofits and the United Nations working for women’s rights, Joan retains her unwavering commitment to art and social justice.

She studied at the Ruskin School of Art, Oxford, dug into ceramics at the Oxford Polytechnic and received an MFA from New York’s City University. Like many women, responding to urgent priorities – children, family – required a pivot to a different professional path.

In 1980, Joan’s art practice changed dramatically when her family moved to Bangkok. Returning to New York City, Joan hung up her potter’s apron to help support the family (eventually two boys, two dogs) building a career developing innovative communication strategies for nonprofit organizations and government. From 2001 until 2016, she worked at United Nations Women headquarters in New York designing and implementing innovative programs to reduce violence against women globally, advance human rights and women’s equality.

In 2016 Joan stepped down from consulting and UN work to fully concentrate on art, saying, “If not now, when?” Thinking “if not now, when?”, she took a risk in 2017 and opened her studio in Sarasota, FL jumpstarting a full-time art practice put on hold decades ago. Close to the tropical forest, Joan combines iconic thrown vessels with hand-built elements and sculpture and brings her visual probing to canvas and paper, using gouache, oil, watercolor and acrylic.

She has exhibited at Sarasota’s Art Uptown Gallery, MARA Art Studio + Gallery, Florida Craft/Art gallery and regional show and recently joined Define Art Gallery in downtown Sarasota. She teaches ceramics at Suncoast Technical College and is a member of Women Contemporary Artists (WCA). In 2021, the Halo Art Project recognized Joan with a Halo Fellowship Award. 

Media Coverage


Joan Libby Hawk, multidisciplinary artist based in Sarasotte visual questions and express her incisive point of view through clay vessels, sculpture, paintings on shaped canvas and paper crafted into three dimensions. Intrigued by relationships in space, color and texture, Joan’s art achieves a complex candor and hard-won elegance.

Joan says, “I see myself in the continuum of artists recording and responding to human experience, innovating art objects for life’s purposes and rituals. The opportunity to manipulate and stretch materials to create contemporary art makes for a challenging and joyful workday.”

Intentionally, her work nods back towards antiquity but is as comfortable in the future as in the past. She fashions engaging contemporary ‘artifacts’ that invite viewers to take a close look, touch and hold textured, handmade objects. An artist and advocate, Joan’s multidisciplinary practice often reflects compelling human rights concerns. 

Exhibits and Shows Selected (within
the last two years)

Rebels, FloridaCraft, St.Petersburg, Fl, June 30 – August 26, 2023, ceramic sculpture and vessels.

The Alchemy of Art, Florida CraftArt, St. Petersburg, FL, May 5 – June 24, 2023, ceramics sculpture and vessels.

Women Contemporary Artists Juried Show, Art Center Manatee, April 23 to May 19, 2023, SOCIAL DISTANCE, ceramic sculpture.
Halo Art Project annual exhibit, January 2023.

On + Off the Wall, featured artist show, Art Uptown Gallery, November 26 – December 30, 2022, installation, ceramic sculpture, vessels and acrylic on canvas paintings.

Things Unseen, Gainesville Fine Arts Association (GFFA) National Biennial, August 26 – October 22, 2022, showing WHOSE STORY?, paper clay sculpture, one of 38 selected from 412 submissions.

Faces & Places, Art Center Sarasota Annual Regional Juried Show, June 2 – August 6, 2022, includes DELTA V., OUTSCAPE, acrylic on watercolor paper.

Women Contemporary Women Artists (WCA) Juried Show, Ringling College of Art & Design, Louis and David Stuhlberg Gallery, June 3-June 24, 2022, showing MY CITY IN RUINS, sculpture, paper clay, glazed and fired.

Womxn in Art, group exhibition at the Mara Studio + Gallery, Sarasota, FL, July 2021 – September 2021. Move Color & Clay collaboration into new territory by creating 4 distinct compositions integrating ceramics and painting. Video link:   

Mind’s Eye Juried Exhibit, Art Center Manatee, July – August 2021, showing BOTANICAL EDGE, shaped acrylic painting on watercolor paper.

Here Comes The Sun Juried Regional Exhibition, Art Center Sarasota, July – August 2021, showing APPLIED FORCE CORAL, acrylic on canvas.

Color & Clay – Duet, Art Uptown Gallery featured exhibit, innovative collaboration creating compositions of ceramics and paintings with painter Jana Millstone, April 2021. 

Ceramics / Shape Space

Clay as Canvas

There's a drive to shape, accomplish, experiment. Each ceramic piece is entirely handmade and individual, the result of a complex process taking place over months. First comes the idea, sketching, planning and working it out in the studio. Being handmade imparts variations and traces of the maker. I mix my own glazes, striving for subtle gradations in tone and texture. You'll notice the changes and variations in the surface on each piece.  Works of art to contemplate, hold, use and enhance life. 

Bucha, Ukraine after attack, February 2022.

MY CITY IN RUINS (Ukraine Elegy), paper clay.

Painting / Color Insight

Vision and Energy

Openness, curiosity and analysis guide my painting process realized through robust color and expressive surfaces. The work moves from abstraction to representation, from real landscapes to those imagined. A definitive place may become an organized energy of color and brushwork and a nonexistent place may be rendered with utmost clarity. 

Detail, work in progress, acrylic on paper.

BOTANNICALS, acrylic on torn paper.


I've learned over these pandemic months what a critical role engaged viewers play. The conversation about the work is essential.  Let's communicate. 


Thank you for subscribing to our newsletter.