Featured Artists

The Allan Chasanoff Ceramic Collection includes work by 233 artists. Every month, the Featured Artists section will display biographical information and thumbnails of artworks by approximately ten artists. Each grouping shares something in common. Visitors are invited to utilize the search features within this section to view objects made by these selected artists from the Chasanoff Ceramic Collection.

Ceramic Masters:
These artists represent the modern-day equivalent of "master" - a designation of excellence and respect in the crafts. Through a lifetime of work in the studio, these men and women have served their profession as leaders, teachers, and role models in the ceramics field

Bacerra, Ralph (1938- ) Higby, Wayne (1943- ) Takaezu, Toshiko (1929-)
DeStaebler, Stephen (1933- ) Kottler, Howard (1930-1989) Warashina, Patti (1939-)
Duckworth, Ruth (1919- ) Rogers, Mary (1929- )
Frey, Viola (1933- ) Swindell, Geoffrey (1945- )


Bacerra, Ralph (1938 - )
Ralph Bacerra was born in Orange County, California. He received his B.F.A. from the Chouinard Art Institute in Los Angeles where he studied under Vivika Heino. In 1963, Bacerra returned to Chouinard as the chairman of the ceramics department. As a teacher, he had a marked influence on his students; many, including Adrian Saxe, Mineo Mizuno, Elsa Rady, have also become well known. Bacerra was the chairman of the ceramics department at Otis College of Art and Design; he currently works from his studio in Los Angeles. He has exhibited his work extensively in both Asia and the United States. Bacerra's early works were functional and traditional pieces. However, his later and present work revolves around complex, elaborate surface treatment on vessels, platters, and sculptures. Nature, the work of Dutch graphic artist M.C. Escher, and Japanese pottery and fabric design inspire Bacerra's forms.


DeStaebler, Stephen (1933 - )
Stephen DeStaebler was born in St. Louis, Missouri. He studied for a year at Black Mountain College in 1951 with Ben Shahn and Robert Motherwell before travelling to Europe to construct stain glass windows. Back in the United States, he received a B.A. in religion from Princeton University in 1954, and, in 1958, a M. A. in art history from the University of California at Berkeley. He also studied ceramics with Peter Voulkos and Ka Kwong Hui. DeStaebler worked at Union Settlement House (East Harlem, New York), Chadwick School (Rolling Hills, California), and was a professor of sculpture at San Francisco State University from 1967-92. He is a prolific sculptor, and has exhibited his work in numerous group shows and a major one-man show at the Oakland Museum. DeStaebler's work consists of large-scale sculptural pieces in clay and, at times, bronzes; his work, inspired by western landscapes and geological formations, strives to convey man's relationship with the earth.


Duckworth, Ruth (1919- )
Ruth Duckworth was born in Hamburg, Germany. In 1936, she moved to England and studied drawing, painting, and sculpture at the Liverpool School of Art until 1940. Following the war, she attended Kennington School of Art for a year where she studied stone carving. Duckworth worked carving tombstones before returning to school in 1955 at the Hammersmith School of Art. She, however, found Hammersmith too rigid and transferred to the Central School of Arts and Crafts in London where she studied from 1956-1958 and subsequently taught from 1959-1964. Duckworth's teaching and her work influenced many post-war British ceramic artists including Gordon Baldwin, Gillian Lowndes, and Hans Coper. Duckworth moved to the United States in 1964 to teach at the University of Chicago; though she intended to stay for only a year, she continued teaching at the University of Chicago until 1977. She presently works from her studio in Geneva, Illinois. Duckworth has had many solo and group exhibitions in Europe, Asia, and the United States. Her early work can be divided into three groups: tableware (both porcelain and stoneware); small, delicate porcelain vessels; and large, coiled stoneware pots. Beginning 1964, she stopped making utilitarian pieces and shifted her focus to large stoneware murals, freestanding sculptures, and small porcelain pieces that were inspired by nature (especially after her move to America). Today, Duckworth's work is primarily dedicated to small porcelain pieces though she still at times makes stoneware murals.


Frey, Viola (1933 - )
Viola Frey was born in Lodi, California. She received her B.F.A. in 1956 from the California College of Arts and Crafts at Oakland where she studied painting under Richard Diebenkorn and ceramics under Vernon Coykendall and Charles Fiske. Frey, in 1958, received her M.F.A. from Tulane University in New Orleans. She then briefly joined the Clay Art Center, Katherine Choy's cooperative, in Port Chester, New York before returning to California in 1960. In 1965, she accepted a part-time faculty position at the California College of Arts and Crafts, and is presently still a professor in the ceramics department. Frey has actively exhibited throughout her career except for a brief period in the mid-1970s when she withdrew to concentrate on her work. Her early work, like many other Bay Area artists, was preoccupied with Japanese and Chinese ceramics. Frey's attention then shifted in the 1960s to manipulating everyday objects, dime store figurines, and prefabricated ceramics into her own forms. In the 1970s and early 1980s, Frey's preoccupation with figurines evolved first into the creation of life-size figures and then progressed to massive, large-scale figures. Presently, Frey's work is again focused on small figurines as well as plates; these forms, particularly the plates or bricolages as she calls them, are covered with an elaborate mixture of glazes, relief work, and pieces of cast and molded objects.


Higby, Wayne (1943 - )
Wayne Higby was born in Colorado Springs, Colorado. He received a B.F.A. in painting and art education in 1966 from the University of Colorado at Boulder, and took his M.F.A. in 1968 at the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor. Higby immediately began teaching at the university level accepting a position first at University of Nebraska at Omaha (1968-70) and then the Rhode Island School of Design (1970-73). In 1973, he joined the faculty at New York State College of Ceramics at Alfred University where he is currently a professor of ceramics. The Hubei Academy of Arts Wuhan, People's Republic of China, also named Higby honorary professor in 1992. Higby has participated in numerous solo and group exhibitions in Europe, Asia, and the United States over the last thirty years. His work since the early 1970s has been dedicated to two forms: oval bowls and groups of covered boxes. The surfaces of his pieces are covered with landscape imagery of the west drawn from his childhood experiences in Colorado.


Kottler, Howard (1930 - 1989)
Howard Kottler was born in Cleveland, Ohio. He attended Ohio State University in Columbus for both undergraduate and graduate school, and received his B.A. in 1952, M.A. in 1956, and his Ph.D. in 1964. Kottler also received an M.F.A. from Cranbrook Academy of Art in Michigan in 1957. While completing his doctoral degree, Kottler taught at Ohio State. In 1964, he accepted a position at the University of Washington in Seattle; he was a professor with the School of Art until his death in 1989. Kottler, along with Patti Warashina, turned the ceramic-sculpture program at University of Washington into one of the most successful. Kottler has had significant influence upon the work of many ceramic-sculpture artists including Michael Lucero, Mark Burns, and Ann Currier. His work has been exhibited extensively (both in group and solo shows) during his career except for a six year period in the early 1980s when he temporarily withdrew from public shows. Kottler's early work consists of traditional stoneware pieces. Beginning in the late 1960s until his death, Kottler was concerned with the impact and concept behind than with the functionality of his pieces. His vessel forms and sculptures often have elaborate surface treatment and are often assemblages of molds, decals, ceramic "junk" pieces, and anything else that inspired Kottler.


Rogers, Mary (1929 - )
Mary Rogers was born in Belper, England. She studied graphic design at Watford School of Design and apprenticed with John Dickenson from 1945-47. Rogers also studied calligraphy for two years at St. Martin's School of Art in London from 1947-49 and studied ceramics at the Loughborough School of Art from 1960-64. She worked for several years as a calligrapher and graphic designer before established her own workshop in Loughborough; she worked from this studio for the bulk of her career. Rogers currently works out of her studio near Falmouth, Cornwall. Large, coiled stoneware pots inspired by nature comprise the bulk of Rogers' early work. In the early 1970s, Rogers' began making small porcelain bowls fashioned after leaves, flowers, twigs, pods, and other natural forms. Presently, she concentrates on small, delicate porcelain forms as well as some larger stoneware pieces that reflect natural history objects and forms found in nature.


Swindell, Geoffrey (1945 - )
Geoffrey Swindell was born in Stoke-on-Trent, England. He studied painting and ceramics at Stoke-on-Trent College of Art from 1960-67 and ceramics at the Royal College of Art in London from 1967-70. Swindell accepted a teaching position at York School of Art, and taught there from 1970-75. Presently, he is a lecturer of ceramics at South Glamorgan Institute of Higher Education and has a studio in Cardiff. His early work was dedicated to porcelain pots and, to a lesser extent, stoneware pots; shells, helmets, and tin toys inspired these pieces. Since 1975, Swindell has made small "flower-bud" porcelain forms decorated by a combination of glazes, enamels, and lusters.


Takaezu, Toshiko (1929 - )
Toshiko Takaezu was born in Pepeekeo, Hawaii. She studied ceramics and weaving at the Honolulu School of Art and ceramics at Cranbrook Academy of Art in Michigan. While at Cranbrook, Takaezu studied under Maija Grotell who had a strong influence on the development of her work. Takaezu taught at several schools- Penland School of Crafts in North Carolina, Cleveland Institute of Art, and Princeton University- before devoting all of her energies to her own studio work. The inspirations for Takaezu's work draw from nature, Zen Buddhism, Abstract Expressionist painting and landscapes, and the unique blending of eastern and western traditions in Hawaii. Her works range from small, closed pieces to tall sculptural pieces, and she often explores elements of sound and light with her pieces.


Warashina, Patti (1939 - )
Born in Spokane, Washington, Patti Warashina received her B.F.A. (1962) and her M.F.A. (1964) from the University of Washington in Seattle. She taught at Wisconsin State University for a year and Eastern Michigan University for two years before accepting her current faculty position at University of Washington in Seattle in 1970. Warashina, together with Howard Kottler, turned the ceramic-sculpture program at University of Washington into one of the most successful. In her early career, she directed her energies towards functional pottery with painted surfaces. In the 1970s, Warashina began making ceramic-sculpture. Her sculptures have a surreal and dreamlike feel and often suggest feminist themes (particularly pieces with her white Barbie figurine).



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