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Kenneth Ferguson, Ken Ferguson

Biography to Display: 

1928Born, Elwood, Indiana

2004Died, Shawnee, Indiana

EDUCATION

1952BFA Painting, Carnegie Institute of Technology, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

1958MFA New York State College of Ceramics, Alfred University, Alfred, New York

PRIMARY WORK EXPERIENCE

UnknownFaculty, Carnegie Institute (Carnegie Mellon University), Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

1958-1964Director, Archie Bray Foundation, Helena, Montana

1964-1996Faculty, Kansas City Art Institute, Kansas City, Missouri

 

Ken Ferguson was a master potter known for wheel thrown and slab built pots. His work embodies the mid-20th century aesthetic shift away from purely functional vessel forms to a more expressive pot that references the functional vessel.

Much of his work draws inspiration from folklore and European, Asian and American mythology. His trip to Japan in 1973 reinforced his belief that the act of repetitive throwing of a particular form would lead to true improvisation.

He was heavily influenced by Japanese wares, both Bizen and Oribe. The Bizen pottery influence can be seen in his wood firing experiments. In order to create rich and varied surfaces, Ferguson wrapped pots in straw and dispersed salt and other organic materials around a wood-fired kiln.

Ferguson absorbed the Oribe tradition by incorporating limp flesh-like and body-fold references in the finish of his exaggerated, gestural pot forms. In the 1980s the animal forms, frequently hares, found on his early work grew to be increasingly important, sometimes becoming the entire piece.

Most of his work is high fired stoneware although he used a range of materials and techniques including, porcelain, low temperature firing, thrown, hand-built and cast ware. Occasionally he used salt or raku firing.  

Ferguson began developing the ceramics department at the Kansas City Art Institute in 1964 and was its head when he retired. Under Ferguson’s influence KCAI became one of the most important ceramics schools in the United States.

Public Collections

Public Collections to Display: 

Bemidji State University, Bemidji, Minnesota

Brooklyn Museum, Brooklyn, New York

Carnegie Institute Museum of Art, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Charles H. MacNider Museum, Mason City, Iowa

Everson Museum of Art, Syracuse, New York

Henry Art Gallery, University of Washington, Seattle, Washington

Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA), Los Angeles, California

The Mint Museum, Charlotte, North Carolina

Museum of Arts and Design, New York, New York

Nelson-Atkins Museum and Art Gallery, Kansas City, Missouri

Newark Museum, Newark, New Jersey

Racine Art Museum, Racine, Wisconsin

Schein-Joseph International Museum of Ceramic Arts, Alfred University, Alfred, New York

St. Louis Art Museum, Saint Louis, Missouri

Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C.

Trout Gallery, Dickinson College, Carlisle, Pennsylvania

Victoria and Albert Museum, London, England

Bibliography

Bibliography to Display: 

Bloemink, Barbara J. Keepers of the Flame: Ken Ferguson’s Circle. Kansas City, MO: Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art and Design, 1995. 

Clark, Garth. Ken Ferguson: Talking with the Wheel. San Diego, CA: Silver Gate Inc., 2007.

___________ and Margret Hughto. A Century of Ceramics in the United States 1878-1978. New York, NY: E.P. Dutton / The Everson Museum of Art, 1979.

Dietz, Ulysses Grant. Great Pots Contemporary Ceramics from Function to Fantasy. Madison, WI: Guild Publishing / The Newark Museum, Newark, NJ, 2003.

Lebow, Edward. Ken Ferguson. Kansas City, MO: Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, 1995.

Levin, Elaine. The History of American Ceramics from Pipkins and Bean Pots to Contemporary Forms / 1607-present. New York, NY: Harry N. Abrams, Inc., 1988.

Lynn, Martha Drexler. Today Contemporary Ceramists and Their Work A Catalogue of the Howard and Gwen Laurie Smits Collection at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. San Francisco, CA: Los Angeles County Museum of Art / Chronicle Books, 1990.

Peterson, Susan. The Craft and Art of Clay. Woodstock, NY: The Overlook Press, 2000.

Smith, Paul J., Lucie-Smith, Edward. Craft Today Poetry of the Physical. New York, NY: American Craft Museum, Weidenfeld & Nicholson, 1986.

 

CV or Resume: Click Here to Download
Source: Frank Lloyd Gallery

 

Typical Marks
1962
1958-1964
1970s
1983
1997
Vase
Date: 1958-1964
Form: Vase
Materials: Stoneware
Method: Thrown
Surface Technique: Glaze
The Forrest L. Merrill Collection
The Forrest L. Merrill Collection
Storage Jar
Date: 1962
Form: Covered Jar
Materials: Stoneware
Method: Thrown
Surface Technique: Glaze
Everson Museum of Art Collection, Museum Purchase, 22nd Ceramic National, 1968
Photo: John Polak
Everson Museum of Art Collection, Museum Purchase, 22nd Ceramic National, 1968
Photo: John Polak
Covered Jar
Date: 1970s
Form: Covered Jar
Materials: Stoneware
Method: Thrown
Surface Technique: Glaze
The Forrest L. Merrill Collection
The Forrest L. Merrill Collection
Slump Jar
Date: 1983
Form: Covered Jar
Materials: Stoneware
Method: Thrown and Altered
Surface Technique: Shino Glaze, Woodfire
E John Bullard Collection
E John Bullard Collection
Leaping Hare Platter
Date: 1997
Form: Platter
Materials: Stoneware
Method: Thrown and Altered
Surface Technique: Carved, Glaze, Incised
E John Bullard Collection
E John Bullard Collection
Rabbit Cup
Date: 2003
Form: Cup
Materials: Stoneware
Hieronymus
Hieronymus
Woodfired Shino Teapot #2
Courtesy of The Nevica Project
Courtesy of The Nevica Project
Adam and Eve Bowl
Form: Bowl
Method: Thrown
Surface Technique: Underglaze
Courtesy Elaine Levin Archives, University of Southern California
Photo: Terry Collins
Courtesy Elaine Levin Archives, University of Southern California
Adam and Eve Plate
Form: Plate
Method: Thrown
Surface Technique: Incised, Overglaze
Courtesy Elaine Levin Archives, University of Southern California
Courtesy Elaine Levin Archives, University of Southern California
Bowl with Rabbits
Method: Thrown, Hand Built
Surface Technique: Glaze
Courtesy Elaine Levin Archives, University of Southern California
Courtesy Elaine Levin Archives, University of Southern California
Rabbit Sculpture
Materials: Stoneware
Method: Hand Built
Courtesy Elaine Levin Archives, University of Southern California
Courtesy Elaine Levin Archives, University of Southern California
Basket With Rabbits
Form: Basket
Method: Hand Built
Courtesy Elaine Levin Archives, University of Southern California
Courtesy Elaine Levin Archives, University of Southern California
Covered Jar With Rabbits
Form: Jar
Method: Hand Built
Courtesy Elaine Levin Archives, University of Southern California
Courtesy Elaine Levin Archives, University of Southern California

Citation: "The Marks Project." Last modified June 2, 2018. http://www.themarksproject.org:443/marks/ferguson