Honoring Karen Johnson Boyd: Contemporary Clay

July 1, 2018 - January 20, 2019

With wide-ranging interests including baskets, photography, painting, and ceramics, Karen Johnson Boyd began collecting while a student at Bennington College in Vermont. Mrs. Boyd studied the broader cultural, historical, and artistic context of ceramics as a student. The medium became a primary emphasis of her collecting pursuits over the years. She affirmed: “Clay always seemed like the basic material to me. It’s so responsive. And once I took a ceramics class and we really got in there with clay, I just started feeling good about things people made with their hands.”

Reveling in the essential properties of the material, Mrs. Boyd was drawn to different approaches, a variety of subject matter, and a number of surface treatments—from smooth glazed surfaces to rough textural ones. She passionately collected sculptural work but she would also purchase functional pottery for both daily and special occasions. 

This show offers a dual perspective for understanding Mrs. Boyd’s interest in contemporary ceramics. There is a sampling of work that she found compelling and chose to live with. In addition, large portions of The Nude in Clay and The Nude in Clay II—two exhibitions she curated for Perimeter Gallery in the 1990s that traveled to RAM’s Wustum Museum—are assembled. Focused on figurative works, these exhibitions reflected contemporary interpretations of an enduring subject matter. Mrs. Boyd chose artists who blended ancient and modern sources; emphasized form, structure, and surface; and considered historical, social, and cultural attitudes about the human body.

Exhibition Notes
Press Room

Ann Agee, Robert Arneson, Annette Corcoran, Philip Cornelius, Richard DeVore, Stephen Dixon, Ruth Duckworth, Jack Earl, Edward Eberle, Micah Evans, Laszlo Fekete, Peter Gourfain, Otto and Vivika Heino, Wayne Higby, Anne E. Hirondelle, Margaret Ponce Israel, Georges Jeanclos, Yih-Wen Kuo, Tony Marsh, Jim Melchert, Elie Nadelman, Gustavo Pérez, Jeff Perrone, Amy Sabrina, Bonnie Seeman, Richard Shaw, Esther Shimazu, Kim Simonsson, Robert Sperry, Mara Superior, Toshiko Takaeazu, Robert Turner, Kukuli Velarde, Grace Bakst Wapner, Kurt Weiser, Beatrice Wood, and Betty Woodman

Stephen Dixon
The Choice of Hercules (Teapot), 1998
Glazed earthenware
Racine Art Museum, Gift of Karen Johnson Boyd
Photography: Jon Bolton, Racine
Annette Corcoran
Great Egret (Teapot), 1989
Glazed porcelain
Racine Art Museum, Gift of Karen Johnson Boyd
7 3/8 x 10 x 5 ½ inches
Photography: Jon Bolton, Racine
Kurt Weiser
Covered Jar with Female Torso (detail), 1995
Glazed porcelain and china paint
Racine Art Museum, Gift of Karen Johnson Boyd
20 x 11 x 6 inches
Photography: Jon Bolton, Racine

Honoring Karen Johnson Boyd: Contemporary Clay is made possible by:

Platinum Sponsors

Windgate Foundation

Diamond Sponsors
David Charak
Tom and Irene Creecy
Osborne and Scekic Family Foundation
Ruffo Family Foundation, Inc.

Gold Sponsors
Silver Sponsors
A. C. Buhler Family
Evinrude Outboard Motors
Lucy G. Feller
Dorothy MacVicar
Bronze Sponsors
John Cram and Matt Chambers
Barbara Delaney
David and Ellen Easley
Fredrick and Deborah Ganaway
William A. Guenther
Kirsten and Emily Maki Foundation
The Norbell Foundation
Charles H. Patton and Family in Memory of Joan S. Patton
Janna and Dr. Edward Waldeck
Bill and Mary Walker
Media Sponsors