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Karen Karnes

Biography to Display: 

1925Born, New York, New York

 2016 Died, Morgan, Vermont

EDUCATION

1946BA Brooklyn College, Brooklyn, New York

1951-1952Graduate Fellow, New York State College of Ceramics, Alfred University, Alfred, New York

PRIMARY WORK EXPERIENCE

1954-1979Gate Hill Cooperative, Stony Point, New York

1967Faculty, Penland School of Craft, Penland, North Carolina

APPRENTICESHIPS AND RESIDENCIES

1949-1950Independent Study, Sesto Fiorentino, Italy

1952-1954Potter in Residence, Black Mountain College, Ashville, North Carolina

 

Karen Karnes is known for her wheel thrown functional pottery, especially her iconic covered casseroles and her experiments with wood firing both functional and sculptural pottery.

Early in her career Karnes worked with molds and fired her work in an oil fueled kiln. It was during Karnes’ time in Italy that she learned to work with a potter’s wheel. Returning to the US, she studied at the New York State College of Ceramics at Alfred University and in 1952 she, and her then husband David Weinrib, were potters-in-residence at Black Mountain College where they remained until 1954. They were present for the series of seminal ceramics symposia bringing together Soetsu Yanagi, Shoji Hamada, Bernard Leach, with Marguerite Wildenhain as the moderator. Attended by makers and ceramics educators, these symposia had a far reaching effect on the making, and firing of pots in the United States.

In 1954 Karnes and her husband moved to Stony Point, New York where they worked with other potters to develop the Gate Hill Cooperative. During this period Karnes concentrated on the production of multiples, functional pottery and developed her iconic flame ware casseroles. These are sturdy walled vessels, thrown with deep finger ridges that hold the glaze to create a two tone appearance, finished with a pulled and folded or open loop lid handle attached at an angle. The natural rhythm of the lid handle retained the sense of plasticity of the clay. The casseroles are an example of Karnes’ respect for ceramic traditions with a modern approach.

While teaching at Penland in 1967 she began to use salt in her firings, something she would continue to do throughout her career. After returning to Gate Hill she built a salt kiln there with the help of her friend Mikhail Zakin, also a potter. Karnes moved to Vermont in 1979 where, after producing primarily functional work for many years, she created a series of sculptural pieces that referenced functional forms. She continued to explore atmospheric effects of wood and salt firing and their results on the finished ceramic surface. She stopped firing her own kiln after 1998 when a fire destroyed her kiln shed and home. Subsequently her pieces were fired in the wood fueled kilns of fellow potters around New England.

Karnes’ later work consists of sculptural objects of manipulated thrown pots transformed into objects unrelated to their original components or utility.

An interview with Karen Karnes conducted August 9, 2005, by Mark Shapiro for the Archives of American Art's Nanette L. Laitman Documentation Project for Craft and Decorative Arts in America is available at:
http://www.aaa.si.edu/collections/interviews/oral-history-interview-karen-karnes-12096.

Public Collections

Public Collections to Display: 

Arizona State University Art Museum, Pheonix, Arizona

Aukland Museum, Aukland, New Zealand

Bemidji State University Collection, Bemidji, Minnesota

Canton Museum of Art, Canton, Ohio

Cranbrook Academy Museum of Art, Bloomfield Hills, Michigan

Currier Museum of Art, Manchester, New Hampshire

Delaware Museum of Art, Wilmington, Delaware

Detroit Institute of Art, Detroit, Michigan

Everson Museum of Art, Syracuse, New York

Honolulu Museum of Art, Honolulu, Hawaii

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

Manchester Craftsmen's Guild, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, New York

Mint Museum of Craft + Design, Charlotte, North Carolina

Museum of Arts and Design, New York, New York

Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, Massachusetts

Museum of World Folk Art, La Jolla, California

Nelson Fine Arts Center, Arizona State University, Tempe, Arizona

Northern Clay Center, Minneapolis, Minnesota

Palmer Museum of Art, Pennsylvania State University, University Park, Pennsylvania

Philadelphia Museum of Art, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Racine Art Museum, Racine, Wisonsin

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

Smithsonian American Art Museum, Renwick Gallery, Washington, D.C.

St. Louis Museum of Art, St. Louis, Missouri

Topeka Public Library, Topeka, Kansas

Victoria and Albert Museum, London, England

Weisman Art Museum, University of Minesota, Minneapolis, Minnesota

Wichita Center for the Arts, Wichita, Kansas

Bibliography

Bibliography to Display: 

Boylen, Michael. "A Karen Karnes Workshop." Ceramics Monthly, 1981.

Clark, Garth, and Margie Hughto. A Century of Ceramics in the United States 1878-1978. New York, NY: E.P. Dutton, 1979.

Dietz, Paula. "American Pottery." New York Times Home Design, April 13, 1986

Hynes, Reggie. "Karen Karnes Workshop." Ceramic Review, May/ June 1982.

____________. "Karen Karnes Retrospective." Ceramics Monthly, March 1978.

____________. "Karen Karnes," Ceramic Review, March/April 1978.

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

Levin, Elaine. The History of American Ceramics From Pipkins and Bean Pots to Contemporary Forms, 1607 to the Present. New York, NY: Harry N. Abrams, Inc., 1998.

Rubin, Michael. "Karen Karnes." Ceramics Monthly, April 1986.

Mark Shapiro, ed. Chosen Path: The Ceramic Art of Karen Karnes. Chapel Hill, NC: The University of North Carolina Press, 2010.

Silberman, Robert. “Modernism As It Was Meant To Be.” American Craft, April/May 2011.

Smith, Dido. "Karen Karnes.” Craft Horizons, May/June 1958.

 

CV or Resume: Click Here to Download
Source: Lacoste Gallery

 

 

 

the center for craft, creativity & design This research was supported by a Craft Research Fund grant from The Center for Craft, Creativity & Design, Inc.
   
southern highland craft guild The Archive of the Southern Highland Craft Guild.

 

Typical Marks
Photo: Loren Maron
Photo: Loren Maron
Early 1960s
Everson Museum of Art Collection, Purchase Prize given by Purchase Prize given by Lord and Taylor, 16th Ceramic National, 1951, Photo: John Polak
Everson Museum of Art Collection, Purchase Prize given by Purchase Prize given by Lord and Taylor, 16th Ceramic National, 1951, Photo: John Polak
Double Vase
Date: 1951, in Italy
Form: Vase
Materials: Earthenware
Method: Hand Built
Surface Technique: Glaze
Everson Museum of Art Collection, Purchase Prize given by Lord and Taylor, 16th Ceramic National, 1951
Photo: John Polak
Everson Museum of Art Collection, Purchase Prize given by Lord and Taylor, 16th Ceramic National, 1951
Photo: John Polak
Sack
Date: ca 2000
Materials: Stoneware
Method: Hand Built, Thrown
Surface Technique: Unglazed
Photo: Loren Maron
Photo: Loren Maron
Photo: Loren Maron
Casserole
Form: Casserole
Materials: Flameware
Method: Thrown
Surface Technique: Glaze
Photo: liveauctioneers.com
Photo: liveauctioneers.com
Lidded Vessel
Form: Covered Jar, Creamer
Materials: Stoneware
Method: Thrown
Surface Technique: Glaze
Photo: liveauctioneers.com
Wine Vessels
Form: Vessel
Materials: Stoneware
Method: Thrown
Surface Technique: Glaze
Vessel
Date: 1991
Form: Vessel
Materials: Stoneware
Method: Thrown and Altered
Surface Technique: Glaze
Courtesy Elaine Levin Archive, University of Southern California
Photo: John White
Courtesy Elaine Levin Archive, University of Southern California
Winged Vessel
Date: 1989
Form: Vessel, Yunomi
Materials: Stoneware
Method: Thrown and Altered
Surface Technique: Glaze
Courtesy Elaine Levin Archive, University of Southern California
Photo: John White
Courtesy Elaine Levin Archive, University of Southern California
Bowl with Split Foot
Date: 1992
Form: Bowl
Materials: Stoneware
Method: Thrown and Altered
Surface Technique: Glaze
Judith and Martin Schwartz Collection
Photo: John Polak
Judith and Martin Schwartz Collection
Tall Vase
Date: 1977
Form: Vase
Materials: Stoneware
Method: Thrown
Surface Technique: Glaze
Judith and Martin Schwartz Collection
Photo: John Polak
Judith and Martin Schwartz Collection

Citation: "The Marks Project." Last modified June 6, 2017. http://www.themarksproject.org:443/marks/karnes