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Karen Shapiro Works Biography

Karen Shapiro

Contemporary California ceramic artist

My first recorded attempts at artistic expression were at the ripe age of 5 years or so when I painstakingly painted the adobe brick walls surrounding our house in Tucson. The records of these attempts are the scratchy old home movies taken years ago – the painted images being executed in nothing but tap water and disappearing instantly in the Arizona sun. Years later I majored in art in high school where I began working in clay and continued in this medium as a design major in college. After college and continuing until a year or so ago, my medium changed drastically to a more edible artform in the shape of a long, hard career as a pastry chef.

I am now happily out of the kitchen and back into the ceramics studio where I am finding great joy in working in a sculpture style which is new for me. In earlier years, my emphasis was on abstract form – believing, of course, that I was redefining the perfect form. Upon reentering the ceramic studio at the College of Marin, under the tutelage of the ever-inspiring energy and talent of Anne Peet Carrington, I naturally tried to take up where I had left off many years ago. I was immediately frustrated and disappointed to see that those “perfect” forms would no longer come from my hands. Instead, I was drawn to the form of a milk carton, then to my espresso pot from Italy, next to an artichoke from the market – in other works, I found an inexhaustible source of fascinating shapers and forms staring at me from all sides.

Now I find myself jumping around from vegetables to nail polish bottles and lipsticks, to crayons and on and on…and in addition to these wonderful objects I have also discovered the raku kiln. The excitement of reaching into a red-hot environment with tongs, of the flaming bucket, even the choking smoke, and finding results I never dreamt of – always changing, always so much to learn – has given me back an enormous energy, appetite and passion for my work. It’s an adventure I’ve just begun, and I look forward to many fulfilling years and ever more exciting results which I hope to share with as many people as may also find them interesting and fun..

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