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Skidmore College

Leading ceramics artist Kurt Weiser to lecture Oct. 19

October 14, 2009

Ceramic artist Kurt Weiser will deliver this year's Rosanne Brody Raab Visiting Artist Lecture at Skidmore at 6 p.m. Monday, Oct. 19, in the Payne Room of the Tang Teaching Museum.

Sponsored by Raab, a Skidmore alumna, and the College's Department of Art, the illustrated lecture is free and open to the public.

Weiser has become one of the leading artists of his genre. His porcelain vessels range from classically inspired, yet amorphous lidded jars and teapots, to unique mounted globes that are richly decorated with otherworldly imagery and are full of allegorical and mythological references and lush landscapes. Building on the great traditions of both Europe and Asia, his works articulate post-modernism while paying homage to his ceramic forebears.

Weiser's early works consist of abstract forms with minimal surface decoration, an approach in which he soon felt limited. Around 1990, the artist began incorporating vibrant, fertile, tropical landscapes ? perhaps inspired by his trips to Thailand?on the glazed surface of his vessels. Surreal figures set within rich vegetation and wildlife emphasize a unique, mystifying interaction with nature. "I gave up trying to control nature and decided to use what I had learned about the materials to express some ideas about nature itself and my place in it," explained Weiser. His mastery of the china painting technique?an over-glazing process that requires multiple firings and careful attention to color placement and order?allows each vessel to portray an enveloping, multi-dimensional narrative.

Born in 1950 in Lansing, Mich., Weiser graduated in 1968 from Interlochen Center for the Arts, a high school devoted to nurturing young artists, receiving many awards that recognized his talents. He earned a B.F.A. degree in 1972 at the Kansas City Art Institute under the guidance of ceramics master Ken Ferguson (1928-2004), the head of the ceramics department and a leading American ceramics master of the 20th century. After completing an M.F.A. degree at the University of Michigan in 1976, Weiser was appointed resident director of the Archie Bray Foundation for the Ceramic Arts in Helena, Mont. The artist now maintains a studio in Tempe, Ariz., and is a Regents Professor at Arizona State University.

Weiser's work is featured in public and private collections around the world, including the following: The Mint Museum of Craft + Design, North Carolina; Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Los Angeles; Carnegie Institute, Museum of Art, Pittsburgh; National Museum of American Art, Smithsonian Institution, Washington D.C.; Victoria and Albert Museum, London; Museum of Contemporary Ceramics, Shiragaki, Japan; Helsinki Museum of Applied Arts, Finland; and the National Museum of History, Taipei, among others.

The Rosanne Brody Raab Lecture was endowed at Skidmore by Raab, a member of the college's Class of 1955 and an art advisor whose firm specializes in the arts of craft and design as a way to showcase artists working in materials such as clay, fiber, metal, and wood.

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