Kathy Butterly, Wanderer, 2013, clay, glaze, 6 1/8 x 6 1/8 x 6 1/4".

Kathy Butterly

Tibor De Nagy Gallery

Kathy Butterly, Wanderer, 2013, clay, glaze, 6 1/8 x 6 1/8 x 6 1/4".

As an artist whose medium is clay, Kathy Butterly works between two histories: the tradition of pots—of objects that may well be refined but as vessels must also be useful—and the tradition of art, of useless objects that are nevertheless valuable to us because of the meanings embedded in them by the complexities of their appearance. This basic binary seems to have led Butterly to other ones. As a student, she majored in painting, but she was pushed into ceramics, she has said, by an encounter with the California sculptor Viola Frey: “She took twenty-five pounds of clay, whomped it down on the wheel, and started throwing what was going to be the base of one of her fifteen-foot-tall sculptures.” This conversion experience was clearly an experience of power—Butterly’s own word for Frey is “macho”—yet she herself mostly works small: High Life (all works cited,

to keep reading

Artforum print subscribers have full access to this article. If you are a subscriber, sign in below.

Not registered for Register here.

SUBSCRIBE NOW for only $50 a year—65% off the newsstand price—and get the print magazine plus full online access to this issue and our archive.*

Order the PRINT EDITION of the May 2014 issue for $17 or the ONLINE EDITION for $5.99.

* This rate applies to U.S. domestic subscriptions.