Patti Warashina: Wit and Wisdom
Patti Warashina: Wit and Wisdom celebrates ceramic artist, Patti Warashina (b. 1940) and her tremendous, unparalleled contributions to the world of ceramics. Although Warashina does not think of herself as famous, as the title to this book announces, she is widely appreciated for the wit and wisdom she expresses in her sculpture. Warashina's personal artistic path relies on curiosity, effervescence, a healthy dose of skepticism, and an over-active sense of humor. She uses her art-making to raise questions of social consciousness and life-cycle mysteries, both of which are based on staying tuned in to two seemingly incompatible influences of current news reports and her own subconscious voice. Amid the disparity of such opposing energies, Warashina takes pleasure in producing works that possess duality and ambiguity. The reader will find that this image-filled publication and its expansive narrative account by Martha Kingsbury represent Warashina to perfection.
This book is published on the occasion of an exhibition by the same name at the American Museum of Ceramic Art. Patti Warashina: Wit and Wisdom is purposely saturated with images, including more than 60 full-color photographs that represent the scope of Warashina's art work from 1960 through 2012 and over 100 smaller images that augment Kingsbury's text.
Martha Kingsbury provides exceptional insight into the complex issues that make up Warashina's person and her art. She enumerates the events and emotions that changed Warashina: a hgih-expectation work ethic attributed to the female lineage of her family, memories of WWII prejudices towards Japanese Americans, a 1960s view of women's roles changed by the rise of feminism, her various experiences with loss, the rise of environmental concerns, and inspirations gained through world travels. This is the background against which Kingsbury purposes her interpretations f the artist's work. Putting it in perspective, the author repeatedly uses a mantra-like phrase to describe Warashina's source of content as, "what she knew... because of who she was."
Kingsbury was a Professor of Art History at the University of Washington for 35 years, with research years in Paris and teaching terms in Japanese and Chinese universities. She specializes in 19th century and American art, and especially researched art of the Seattle region, writing about it in such publications as Art of the Thirties in the Pacific Northwest, What It Meant to Be Modern: Seattle Art at mid-Century, and Northwest Traditions. She also curated exhibitions of Northwest art, including recently Around the Bend and Over the Edge: Seattle Ceramics 1964 - 1977, including works by Patti Warashina and many others, for the Henry Art Gallery at the University of Washington. She actively served on the Seattle Arts Commission as chair of its Art in Public Places Committee, 1972 - 1974, and at UW, she advised and encouraged many of the MA and PhD students who completed projects on American art.