Sarofim School of Fine Arts

Katherine Shipman

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2012 B.F.A. with a focus in Ceramics

People, just like clay, can present an exterior surface that is rough or unappealing to some, and unfortunately, we live in a world that is increasingly obsessed with the physical. Ideas of beauty have become almost farfetched with the media’s use of photo editing and society’s heightened interest in plastic surgery. One’s physical appearance (race, gender, etc.) is, therefore, very quickly judged. However, these first impressions can be misleading. A beautiful exterior can house a wicked heart, and a rough container may be hiding a treasure.

Ceramics lends itself as the perfect medium to express these concepts. Several of my pieces, including the two large portraits, were created using sgraffito techniques, which allow me to literally “scratch” through “the surface” slip that covers the work to reveal the pure clay that lies beneath.  From a distance, we are only able to make out the physical appearances, but if we take the time to look closer, we’ll see both the assets and the flaws and form greater understandings of each person’s character.  

Paintings and sculptures tend to isolate themselves from the viewer when displayed.  They are to be looked at from a distance, admired, but certainly never touched.  The forms and textures that are found in ceramics are more inviting; they are surfaces that are meant to be handled.  While it puts my pieces at risk, I encourage my viewers to look into each of my containers on their own and to delve into my “idea book.” In allowing this, I hope to encourage viewers to not simply look at the outer layers, but to dig a bit deeper, just as I am “scratching the surface” of my medium of clay.

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