For more than 60 years Karen Karnes (1925–2016) has been at the forefront of the studio pottery movement. Over her long career, she has created some of the most iconic pottery of the late 20th and early 21st centuries. She has worked in some of the most significant cultural settings of her generation, including North Carolina’s avant-garde Black Mountain College in the 1950s.
Karnes’ artistic output is recognized for its understated, quietly poetic surfaces and sublime biomorphic forms. From her dramatic salt-glazed pottery of the 1960s and 70s, to her most recent complex joined sculptural pieces, Karnes consistently has challenged herself – with the unintentional consequence of irreversibly transforming the medium. She remains one of the medium’s most influential working potters and is a mentor to several generations of studio potters.
Peter Held, curator of ceramics at the Ceramics Research Center (CRC), shares his enthusiasm for this important exhibition. “Karnes career mirrors the burgeoning craft field in the United States starting after World War II. In the ensuing years she has produced work that is remarkable for its depth, personal voice, and consistent innovation,” Held says.
The organization and presentation of A Chosen Path: The Ceramic Art of Karen Karnes was generously funded by an Artist Exhibition grant from the Windgate Charitable Foundation, with additional support from the Ceres Trust, Friends of Contemporary Ceramics, the Center for Craft, Creativity and Design and the University of North Carolina Press, who undertook the production and distribution of the handsome exhibition catalogue. The exhibition will travel to four museums nationwide after the presentation at ASU.