For her new show, Color in Forming at The James Cohan Gallery in Tribeca, Kathy Butterly presents several of her signature colorful sculptures. Her distorted ceramic forms resemble pots, bowls, vases, and purses. Each piece has its own personality and character shown through the color scheme and also through its shape, its features, and how it interacts with the shape and size of the pedestal (or podium as the artist calls it) on which it sits.
What: Color in Forming, sculptures by Kathy Butterly
When: Through March 26, 2022, Tue.-Sat. from 10 a.m.-6 p.m.
Where: The James Cohan Gallery, 48 Walker St. New York, NY
Butterly creates these beauties with clay, which she pours into plaster molds. She then goes through an extensive process of molding the wet clay until she senses the work’s distinct form and personality developing. Butterly then takes her newly formed clay piece and fires it in a kiln several times. The glazes of assorted colors help the piece develop its character.
One notable work in the show with a blue color scheme titled Blue Kinetic sits on a rectangular podium of about two inches high. It consists of a navy-blue shallow bowl with finely elevated curved edges with a deep structure rising from it, making up the body of the piece.
This particular sculpture seems to depict a waterfall as is shown by the wavy brushstrokes of blue and white paint that illustrate the impact of the water coming down on the body of the piece whose shape also evokes the notion of water swaying in the breeze.
Other notable works include Mother Melt, featuring a squished yellow and white purse with a green bottom with two skinny handles on either side. One of the handles is longer than the other and dangles on the side past the bottom of the purse touching the light pink podium on which the bag stands.
Another piece titled Assume Yes is an almost entirely cream-white color. The body of the piece resembles a pair of lips with the upper part hovering above the lower part. The upper portion also has a smoothly curved opening and structure with very light traces of yellow, green, and blue. The handle can be seen hanging in a loop from the side of the bottom of the piece.
Contrasting with this color scheme is a piece titled Before Clarity which is completely black sitting on a high podium with the body of the piece resembling a squished cauldron that has two layers with the bottom layer being slightly wider than the top layer.
Another piece with contrasting colors is Nude Beach consisting of black and a very soft pink. The podium is all pink while black dominates the body with pink shown on the sides taking up only about a quarter of the piece. The opening on top is sharply curved into a V-shape with two triangular structures formed on either side resembling hills or mountains.
Butterly grew up in suburban New Jersey and received her Bachelor of Fine Arts degree at Moore College of Art in Philadelphia before earning her Master’s degree at the University of California, Davis. Butterly works out of her studio in her East Village apartment, which she shares with her husband, painter Tom Burckhardt.