Karen Russo Studio
I am a ceramic artist who lives and creates in the lush green foothills of western Oregon. I chose clay as my primary medium because of its malleability, capacity for transformation, and direct connection to the earth. Over the years, I have developed and honed a unique method of layering materials, textures, and color that lends to my work a rich, organic quality. Beginning with stoneware or earthenware clay, I hand build each sculpture from coil, slabs, or a solid mass of clay. The figure is then cut into multiple sections, hollowed, compressed, and then reassembled. I carve patterns and textures into the clay before it undergoes a slow bisque fire that can last up to a week. I then use underglazes, clay paint, casein, acrylic, wax, or a combination thereof to lay imagery onto each figure’s singular surface. My color palettes echo the places that inspire me from the forests of the Pacific Northwest to the patinated cities of Tuscany. My figurative sculptures are a tapestry of form, texture and color. In clay and paint, I work with paradoxical themes. The resulting sculptures depict women that seem to originate from numerous different eras and geographical origins, but all of which explore the tensions of the feminine experience: strength and contemplation, youth and aging, joy and grief, instability and equilibrium, hope and despair. Through these maternal archetypes, so evocative of the precious earth from which they were formed, I hope to express an eternal optimism for the human spirit in this beautiful, delicate, and chaotic world.