Chris Gustin: Masterworks in Clay

November 8, 2014—February 8, 2015

The American Museum of Ceramic Art is honored to present Chris Gustin: Masterworks in Clay, a retrospective of the artist’s forty-year career.  

Gustin is from a family of makers. His parents ran several pottery factories in the greater Los Angeles area, representing and manufacturing works from various designers. From a young age, Gustin shared his parents’ enthusiasm in making tiles and objects. While at the University of California, Irvine, he studied ceramics with John Mason. After one semester at the school, where he originally concentrated in biology and sociology, he decided to take a break from his studies and work in the family ceramics business.

Two years later, Gustin attended the Kansas City Art Institute, earning his Bachelor of Fine Arts, and went on to the NY State College of Ceramics at Alfred University for his Master of Fine Arts degree. He taught at Parson’s School of Design in New York and later at the Program in Artisanry at Boston University and at the University of Massachusetts. In addition to his teaching and studio practice, Gustin is one of the Founders of Watershed Center for the Ceramic Arts, an artist residency program in Maine. 

Gustin is an explorer of forms, a painter with fire and glazes, and a master of his materials. He takes inspiration from historical, utilitarian pottery as well as the subtleties of the human form. Gustin’s work ranges from functional wares to exquisite tiles to singularly expressive works of art.

This exhibition presents work from the past 40 years of his career and illustrates the progression of his forms and ideas. These works reflect memories of people and conversations, events and realizations that feed each series of work with new ideas.

A special thanks to all of the collectors who have generously lent work to this exhibition.

Opening Reception: Saturday, November 8, 6:00-9:00 pm

Artist Lecture: Saturday, November 8, 5:00pm

More images of Chris Gustin’s work:

Teapot, 1990, Chris Gustin

 Chris Gustin Lecture at AMOCA – November 8, 2014

Chris Gustin Lecture at AMOCA on November 8, 2014

Artist Statement

I am interested in pottery that make connections to the human figure. The figurative analogies used to describe pots throughout history all in some way invite touch. The pots that I respond to all speak of a clear, direct sense of the hand. The hand is celebrated in the work by its maker, whether it is that of a fifteenth century rural potter or a nineteenth century court artisan. And it becomes a necessary tool for the user in understanding the relationship of the object to its function, and subsequently, to how that object informs ones life.

Though most of my work only alludes to function, I use the pot context because of its immense possibilities for abstraction. The skin of the clay holds the invisible interior of the vessel. How I manipulate my forms “around” that air, constraining it, enclosing it, or letting it expand and swell, can allow analogy and metaphor to enter into the work.

I want my work to provoke image to the viewer, to suggest something that is just on the other side of consciousness. I don’t want my pots to conjure up a singular recollection, but ones that change with each glance, with each change of light. I use surfaces that purposely encourage touch, and by inviting the hand to explore the forms as well as the eye, I hope to provoke numerous memories, recollections that have the potential to change from moment to moment.

Chris Gustin