Diahn Ott is a potter and painter who lives and works in Knoxville, Tennessee. A former geologist, her work reflects her love of the outdoors and the beauty that can be found in the simplest of materials. Her distinctive style combines the raw beauty of clay with elegant glazing techniques and paintings that make each pot a singular work of art.
Delicate wildflowers and crashing surf are recurring themes in her work, along with the ubiquitous skulls that connect each of her pieces. As the artist explains, “The fascination with skulls started with my work at the Natural History Museum at the University of Alabama when I was a graduate student. Bones of animals from millions of years ago were the obvious signs of past lives on our planet, while delicate flowers and plants of that time were rarely preserved. I love the idea of combining the two on a pot - the ephemeral and the permanent.”
While Diahn’s education was in science, her love of art has been a life-long passion. She began painting when her children were young and explored photography throughout their childhood. In 2015, she took a pottery class with a friend and found an immediate affinity for the wheel. Since then, she has devoted herself primarily to pottery, while incorporating painting in the process. She explains, “Pottery began to open doors to all the aspects of my creativity. I make functional pots that turn into canvases I can paint on. I photograph those pots in beautiful settings. Because I started creating in clay, I started painting on canvas again.” Diahn has spent the past 20-plus years as a student and a maker of art and working in clay has been the medium that became the junction for all her work to unite.
Ott’s work has been shown in the exhibition at the Let Her Speak Women’s Summit at Knoxville Botanical Gardens in 2022, as well as in the April 2023 Terra Madre group exhibit at Mighty Mud in Knoxville. Her work is on display in The Curio at Maker Exchange in downtown Knoxville, Tennessee, and can be found in the gift shop at the Knoxville Museum of Art.