Middleton — Joan Jockwig Pearson Watkins was born in New York City in 1924. She was a cellist until she decided to attend the colleges of fine arts and education at Syracuse University from 1941 to 1945. During two years of teaching general art subjects in Southern California she became so intrigued with the medium of clay that she returned to New York to specialize in ceramics at the world famous New York State College of Ceramics located at Alfred University. There, in 1949, after two years of intense study she received her Master’s Degree. She operated her own studio in Alfred until 1951 when she was brought to San Francisco to head the Ceramic Department at the California School of Fine Arts where she remained until August 1957.
In 1954 she received the first grant to be awarded in ceramics by the Louis Comfort Tiffany Foundation. With it she did research and a photographic document in color on American Folk Pottery, tools and techniques, from museums and collections on the East Coast of the United States.
In 1955 she was one of six Americans to be awarded an Italian Government Fellowship for advanced independent research in Italy. At the same time she received a Fulbright Travel Grant. In Italy, in addition to her ceramic studies she made a photographic document of all kinds of artists and craftsman-pictures of them and their work.
During her ten years as a professional ceramist she has been a frequent prize-winner. Her work was also selected for exhibition in France and to tour European museums and galleries from 1955 to 1957 under the auspices of the United States Information Agency. She creates her own glazes and clays and often incorporates the use of bare clay into design of a piece. Since September 1957 she has been teaching ceramics at San Jose Junior College, she continues to make pottery and also conducts her own weekly half hour television program on KQED Channel 9 (San Francisco) called Design Workshop.