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Contemporary art

Western art

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Kathy Butterly

United States of America

1963 -


New York-based artist Kathy Butterly has been making ceramic sculptures since the 1990s when she studied at the University of California under Robert Arneson. In her work Butterly carries forward the tradition of West Coast ceramic artists such as Arneson, as well Ken Price and Viola Frey, and brings to this lineage a decisive painterly quality that is nowhere more evident than in her layered surfaces and firebrand use of colour. Indeed Butterly often refers to herself as a painter who “happens to work with clay”.

Butterly’s sculptural practice is one of discovery and intuition. Never coming to a work with a predetermined idea, she instead finds the direction of her work – its lines, weight, shapes and eventual form – during the process of making. While her earlier works centred upon the relationship between the vessel and the figure, 'Whirld' is part of a body of work that sits firmly within the realm of abstraction and celebrates the possibilities of material and glaze.

Of 'Whirld', Butterly has remarked: “I found the initial form very intriguing and difficult to figure out. I remember thinking while working on this piece how interconnected everything is... I was looking at [it] as figure, landscape, world as one -- trying to find balance in the beauty and chaos of our moment.”




Media categories

Ceramic , Sculpture

Materials used

clay, glaze


18.5 x 27.0 x 17.5 cm


Mollie Douglas Bequest Fund 2018


Not on display

Accession number


Artist information

Kathy Butterly

Works in the collection


Shown in 2 exhibitions

Exhibition history