Karen Shapiro derives her art from what's already there.It doesn't have to be studied, interpreted or understood. Her ceramic sculpture is what it is. Shapiro's ceramics represent items that are used, and they look it. Each piece speaks to an era or a season, an event or a time when the item belonged in the life of the viewer.
"I call them pop icons, except they have a little surface development and a patina that gives them a friendly, used quality," said Chris Winfield. "Some pieces, many of which are from the '30s, '40s and '50s, are quite nostalgic. They have an historical element but are still around, which gives them popular appeal. Collectors tend to buy two and three pieces and then put them on a kitchen counter or vanity, places where the actual items would go."
Although Shapiro considers herself a new kid in the ceramics circle, the techniques of kneading and forming, carving and cutting, baking and glazing are not new to the artist. For 30 years, she worked as a pastry chef, sculpting the ultimate edible art form. She enjoys the process of rolling out, cutting and forming her slab-built pieces, but it's the glazing and firing that takes the cake. "I use a high-fire clay, which I low fire because I raku... The raku puts in the wonderful imperfections of real life... My work is fun, it's whimsical," she said. "I feel lucky I can make a living at it. It's not conceptual; it's literal. People don't have to understand it; it's already understood."