Kathy Erteman - September 2010
In his catalogue essay on Kathy Erteman’s Kean University exhibition, John Perreault states “Certain tendencies can be discerned throughout the world of contemporary ceramics; humor, super-decorativeness, and now mixed-media clay come immediately to mind.” He then goes on to answer his own questions; “But where is elegance? Where is restraint? These unjustly neglected qualities are embodied in the subtle, steadfast work of Kathy Erteman, in which restraint has a strength all its own.”
We are pleased to present a show of Erteman’s powerful ceramic work this fall that will include large installations of 3D architectural wall tiles, paper and clay monoprints, and columnar and horizontal vessels. In all her work there is an apparent simplicity - uncomplicated forms and reduced use of color - ultimately the work reveals it is full of subtle complexities. Erteman’s vessel forms have been honed to minimalist perfection. She achieves her elegance with surface textures and physical contrasts, smooth glazes and tactile sensuality – one can’t help but touch the rims of her vessels. The wall pieces, though composed of ceramic tile elements, echo the grids in the paintings of Sol LeWitt and Agnes Martin.
Kathy Erteman has been a practicing ceramic artist and designer for 30 years. After receiving her BFA from California State University at Long Beach, she worked with the artist Judy Chicago on her ground breaking feminist work The Dinner Party. Comfortable straddling both the functional and fine art worlds, Erteman’s work is included in the permanent collections of the Smithsonian Institution, Los Angeles County Museum and Taipei Museum of Fine Arts and she has designed for companies such as Tiffany’s, Crate and Barrel and Dansk. She teaches at the famed Greenwich House Pottery in NYC and has worked with the group Aid to Artisans in Tibet. Recently she returned from a State Department sponsored trip to China where she collaborated on new designs with Chinese artisans.
Having been a long time fan of her work and having appreciated her earlier more patterned ceramics, following her development over her career it is like watching snow cover a garden in a way. You can no longer see details in the surface, but the stark picture is striking, the forms are simple, pure and absolutely - elegant.