I incorporate color directly into porcelain, enabling me to use this single material for both two and three-dimensional expression. My objects are sculpted, and surfaces developed, simultaneously, allowing for greater immediacy and a significant integration between form and surface.
An additional, essential material characteristic—translucency—is also a core aesthetic issue. Colors and patterns change, blend and oppose in a visual response to the lighted environment. With an internal light source, as with my recent, luminous sculptures, the objects not only respond to the environment, but also define it by controlling environmental light and shadow. Awareness of these interactions is critical to a full understanding and appreciation of my aesthetic intention.
In virtually all of my work, surfaces are constructed through repeat patterning. A fascination with creating complexity out of essential simplicity is pervasive. In my vessels, pattern is developed more traditionally through the repetition of simple shapes while in the luminous sculptures an intricately complex surface pattern results from the organic repetition of essentially simple leaves, petals, insects and reptiles. Whether intimate vessel or architectural luminous sculpture, the essential aesthetic issues—light, color and pattern—remain.
Vessels--porcelain, cone 8, electric fired, sculptural lighting- porcelain, plexi substrate, fluorescent.
Work Generally Available from:
Sherrie Gallerie, 694 N. High Street, Columbus, Ohio 43215 USA, 614-221-8580.
Available for lectures, demonstrations, workshops etc.
“Masters: Porcelain” Curtis Benzle, Huntsville, is featured in the publication; “Masters: Porcelain”, a survey of the premier artists working in porcelain worldwide. Of the forty international artists included in the survey, only Sunkoo Yuh of Athens, GA, and Mr. Benzle represent the Southeast region of the U.S.
Curator Richard Burkett invited artists from around the glode to contribute to this, the first in a major new series featuring the top artists in varying media from Lark Books. Burkett’s choices condense these artist’s achievements to a relative handful of remarkable pieces—something of a mini-retrospective in print-yet they masterfully illustrate what is unique and worthy of study with each artist. See more about this.
Best Exhibition, May 2009, the exhibition at the Sherrie Gallerie in Columbus, Ohio has been selected as one of the Best Exhibitions of 2009 by the Columbus Dispatch. In an excerpt from his review of the exhibition, Dispatch arts critic, Kaizaad Kotwa, writes; "The porcelain works exude a fragile refinement laced with a modernist exploration of line, form and texture..... When light interacts with them, the varying degrees of opacity within the surfaces makes these ceramic marvels seem to glow from within."
Ceramics stains (from a variety of manufacturers) are added as a percentage of dry material to a porcelain clay body I formulated in the early 1970's. The porcelain recipe contains only 20% clay---the remainder being feldspars, flint and plasticizers---so to some it may seem more like glass than clay. This porcelain was developed specifically to yield the highest possible degree of translucency. The construction techniques were developed to accommodate my aesthetic desire for a luminous cross between clay and glass. Traditional clay qualities like plasticity were sacrificed.
I use a variety of techniques on each piece but on any given piece you may find:
* nerikomi---specific images are created in layers within a tube or "log" and then segmented as cross-sections. These image wafers are then used either individually
*slip painting----large color fields are
usually painted in with colored slip made from the same recipe as the
malleable body. I also use slip to paint in specific details in some
of the fish.
*print----I use stencils and stamps to generate some of the imagery. The decision to use nerikomi, painting or printing is based on the content of the overall piece. In general, nerikomi provides a crisper image, painting yields a more fluid imagery and print falls somewhere in-between.
All of the vessels are made of slabs. When painting or printing, I begin with a slab of less than a millimeter in thickness(usually painted as slip onto a fabric and allowed to dry to a malleable state). The appropriate marks are then generated on this surface.
Nerikomi pieces begin with just a piece on fabric(wet) and the images are built up using individual nerikomi wafers. Once the slabs are completed they are transferred to a form made of castable refractory material. The form, and porcelain, is placed in the kiln for firing.
These pieces are made of thousands of individual leaves, petals, insects and reptiles. These parts are initially sculpted in wax. A plaster mold is made of these models and the porcelain is pressed into the mold, painted with slip and fired individually to attain the proper contour. After firing the parts are affixed to a Plexiglas or glass substrate in a process that requires fitting the various parts’ color, form and contour into an engaging composition.
Curtis Benzle received his B.F.A. from the Ohio State University in
1972, apprenticed in pottery with Robert Eckles and was awarded his MA
from Northern Illinois University in 1978. He is a professor emeritus
and former Chair of Dimensional Studies at the Columbus College of Art
and Design (Columbus, OH). Curtis established a studio in Huntsville.,
AL in 2004 and is currently a fulltime studio artist.
Curtis Benzle’s signature works are translucent, porcelain sculptural vessels. They are represented in major museums and collections around the world, including the Smithsonian Museum of American Art, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, the Cleveland Museum of Art, Seto(Japan) Cultural Center and the White House Collection.
Taiwan Ceramics Biennale, Taipei, Taiwan 2008
SOFA/Chicago, International Art Expo, Chicago, IL 2005, 2006
St. Joseph Gallerie, Invitational, Netherlands, 2004
Seto Center for Ceramics and Glass, Group Show, Seto, Japan, 2001
Heim und Handwerk”, Group Show, Munich, Germany, 2000
The National Museum of American Art, The White House Collection, Wahington, D.C. 1995
The Warehouse, Contemporary Porcelain/Group Show, London, England 1995
The White House, Group Show, Washington, DC 1993
Tsukushi Art Gallery, Solo Show, Kitakyushu, Japan, 1991
Akasaka/Green Gallery, Solo Show, Tokyo, Japan, 1990
International Ceramics Festival ‘89, Invitational and Juried sections, Mino, Japan, 1989
Concours Interational de Ceramique Decoree, Juried, Carouge, Switzerland, 1989
Limoges Creative Porcelain Invitational, 1988, Limoges, France
Akasaka Green Gallery, Solo Show, Tokyo, Japan, July, 1987
Ceramic National, Everson Museum of Art, Syracuse, NY, 1987
Christie's, Auction, London, England, December, 1985
Indianapolis Museum of Art, Solo Show, Indianapolis, Indiana, August 1984
Suntory Art Museum, American Porcelain, Tokyo, Japan, April 1984
International Competition of Artistic Ceramics, Faenza, Italy, 1981 and 1982
Smithsonian Institution/Renwick Gallery, American Porcelain, Washington, DC, 1980