Ferrin Contemporary Exhibits Figural Sculptures

Patty Warashina, “Beating the Housewife Blues” 24 x 16 x 13.75 in., earthenware, glaze, 1977. Photo: John Polak

Patty Warashina, “Beating the Housewife Blues” 24 x 16 x 13.75 in., earthenware, glaze, 1977. Photo: John Polak

(NORTH ADAMS, Mass.) – The Clark Art Institute isn’t the only venue featuring artworks featuring the human form in the way nature intended. “EXPOSED: Heads, Busts, and Nudes,” an exhibition of figural ceramic sculpture from 1970 to the present, goes on view at Ferrin Contemporary on Saturday, June 18, with a reception at 4–6pm. The exhibition, which remains on view through August 7,  features masterworks from estates and private collections alongside recent work direct from artist studios.

The artists in the project include Robert Arneson, Rudy Autio, Beth Cavener, Cristina Córdova, Claire Curneen, Stephen Dixon, Jack Earl, Edward Eberle, Philip Eglin, Viola Frey, Alessandro Gallo, Jeanclos George, Gerit Grimm, Sergei Isupov, Doug Jeck, Michael Lucero, Kadri Pärnamets, Esther Shimazu, Mara Superior, Akio Takamori, Tip Toland, Patti Warashina, and Beatrice Wood.


The group of noted American and British sculptors in the exhibit explore themes that range from social realism to otherworldly surrealism to abstraction of form. The overview illustrates how early practitioners in California’s Bay Area during the 1960s and 1970s, such as Robert Arneson, Viola Frey, and Stephen De Staebler, continue to inspire artists today. Known for their use of clay in combination with painted glaze surfaces, these artists challenge presumptions and their work defies easy categorization as sculpture, decorative arts, or studio craft.


The exhibit that takes place at Ferrin Contemporary’s gallery at MASS MoCA presents a selection of available works by living and deceased artists featured in the accompanying catalog EXPOSED: Heads, Busts, and Nudes. The publication includes an introduction by curator Leslie Ferrin and an informative essay by author and independent curator Mark Leach highlighting the seminal moments and interplay between artists and their mentors.


“The exhibition brings together a varied group of artists working in clay and for whom the figure has been a rich and enduring motif. Each explores or expresses aspects of our human nature — its dark and horrific impact and its uplifting and triumphant accomplishments,” states Leach.


Sergei Isupov, “Risen,” with artist, 2016, 8’, stoneware, slip, glaze. Photo: John Polak.

Sergei Isupov, “Risen,” with artist, 2016, 8’, stoneware, slip, glaze. Photo: John Polak.

Leslie Ferrin, gallery director and curator of this exhibition explains, “We are focusing on the lineage between generations of contemporary artists who are working within the figural genre. The first generation of post WW II artists inspired a second and now a third generation of contemporary artists exploring figural sculpture through their work, teaching, and the educational programs they established. Likewise, the first generation of collectors are actively feeding new and established collections through gifts and sales of masterworks collected during their lifetimes.


“By exhibiting works from artist studios, estates, and private collections that together span five decades, we are creating a generational investigation that explores the work of contemporary artists who were educated in the programs founded by the master artists.”


Responding to a renewed and growing public interest in realism, this show offers an opportunity to view important works by three generations and showcases masterworks made by living artists at mid-career. Provoked by their personal response to the times in which they live and their unique relationship with the medium, these artists are at a pivotal moment, exploring scale and the development of ideas.


This exhibition, catalog, and related programming provides collectors and artists an opportunity to survey and reflect on fifty years of the figure.


The public is invited to the opening reception on Saturday, June 18, 4–6 p.m.




Ferrin Contemporary specializes in ceramic art circa 1950 to the present.  For more than 30 years, private collectors, institutions, and the media have made it their preferred source for artwork by established and emerging artists whose primary medium is clay.  Based in the Berkshires of Western Massachusetts, Ferrin Contemporary exhibits curated projects and solo shows in their year-round gallery space and through innovative partnerships with leading museums and galleries throughout the US and abroad.

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