SACRAMENTO — For more than 60 years, Karnes has been at the forefront of the studio pottery movement, creating some of the most iconic vessels and sculptural objects in American ceramics. The Crocker Art Museum exhibition will highlight 69 masterworks from this pioneering artist.
Karnes’ artistic output is recognized for its understated, poetic surfaces and sublime biomorphic forms. From her dramatic salt-glazed pottery of the 1960s and ‘70s to her most recent joined sculptural pieces, Karnes consistently has challenged herself and transformed expectations of the medium. She remains one of the most influential working potters today and is a mentor to several generations of studio potters.
“American Craft” magazine noted, “Karen Karnes is more than admired in the ceramics world; she is beloved. ‘A Chosen Path: The Ceramic Art of Karen Karnes’ is a reminder of what a pleasure it can be to encounter, in person, the full range of work created by such a figure.”
Born in 1925 in New York, Karnes studied at Brooklyn College and later at Alfred University. In the early 1950s, she was a potter-in-residence at North Carolina’s avant-garde Black Mountain College. In 1954, Karnes moved to Stony Point, New York, where she continued to produce functional, salt-glazed pieces until 1979. She then moved to Vermont and adopted a more conceptual approach and wood-firing techniques.
“A Chosen Path: The Ceramic Art of Karen Karnes” was organized by Peter Held and the Arizona State University Art Museum Ceramic Research Center. The exhibition is accompanied by a catalogue edited by ceramist Mark Shapiro and ceramics historian Garth Clark.