Kathy Butterly: Thought Presence
James Cohan will present Thought Presence, an exhibition of new work by Kathy Butterly at the gallery’s Chelsea location from September 6 through October 20. Thought Presence is Butterly’s first solo exhibition at James Cohan. The gallery will host a conversation with the artist and Carrie Moyer on October 13 from 2-4 pm.
For more than two decades, Kathy Butterly has created striking, evocative sculptures that play between figuration and abstraction, contributing to and expanding the field of contemporary ceramics. Like George Ohr and Ken Price, who Butterly cites as key influences, she is an artist whose medium is clay and whose considerable ambitions are not tethered to the modest dimensions of her pieces. Butterly’s oeuvre is defined by her process: she begins with a cast form, created by pouring wet clay into a plaster mold made from a generic, store-bought vessel, pinching and pulling and folding the clay until she finds something that resonates, Rorschach-like, with her psychological state. She then refines the piece, carving and smoothing its surfaces in a manner she likens to three-dimensional line drawing. The vessel is subsequently fired and glazed—always repeatedly and often upwards of 30 times—allowing her to paint surfaces and build volumes with accumulated layers of glazes and clay. Her work is an exploration of what her materials can do and how she can speak through them. It is also predicated upon risk, for with each firing the chance of loss is always at hand.