Magazine article Sculpture

BELLEVUE, WASHINGTON: Patti Warashina

Magazine article Sculpture

BELLEVUE, WASHINGTON: Patti Warashina

Article excerpt

Patti Warashina, Forbidden Fruit, 1979. Low-fire clay, underglaze, glaze, and mixed media, 24 x 24 x 35 in.

Bellevue Arts Museum

Organized by the American Museum of Ceramic Art in Pomona, California, "Wit and Wisdom: Patti Warashina" later traveled to the Bellevue Arts Museum, where BAM curator Stefano Catalani expanded its offerings with loans from local collections. The result was a revelatory retrospective that covered the period between 1960 and 2012 and featured works in clay, plastic, and bronze, in addition to prints.

A professor at the University of Washington from 1970 to 1995, Warashina has exhibited her work nationally and internationally; her sculptures are included in dozens of museum and public art collections. Her work grows out of West Coast Surrealism and the Funk art of the 1960s, but it goes much further. Like Viola Frey, Robert Arneson, and Stephen de Staebler, Warashina eventually embraced large-scale, assembled-in-sections clay sculpture. Before that, she concentrated on a variety of series that fused autobiographical elements into satires about sex roles and stereotypes, environmental carnage, and deeper relations between men and women.

Warashina's small- to medium-size female figures, rendered with great realism in earthenware and porcelain, evolved from her "Pyramid and Altars" series (1970s), covered with images of shrieking women, to multiple-figure groups from the '80s sealed under Plexiglas covers and domes. Warashina's world view developed, as did Louise Bourgeois's, from childhood and adolescent experiences extrapolated into generalized narratives about society.

The theme of rage concealed by humor runs through the more than 120 pots, sculptures, assemblages, and prints featured in the show. Warashina articulated another way of seeing these visually compelling works, which, in some cases, exude a distinctly creepy air ( Forbidden Fruit, 1979), when she commented about "attractive surfaces covering up unsettling details. …

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