Kathy Butterly finds virtuosity and rigor in the small. She pushes each of her ceramic sculptures to the limits of its material possibilities. Hers is a painstaking process of firing porcelain, a medium that can be both luscious and unforgiving. Butterly presents two major bodies of work at CAM. Out of one, many displays Butterly’s imaginative powers and technical brilliance applied to a single pint-glass form over many years, producing astonishing variations. The sculptures are anthropomorphic, playful, intricate, provocative, and barely five inches tall. Whereas the smaller cup forms reference the body, a new series of work alludes to the human head. In Headscapes, Butterly takes formal variation to a grander scale. Including ten new works created especially for CAM, this recent series of sculptures make room for what Butterly refers to as “journeys of the mind,” entering a psychological realm of unease.
Kathy Butterly: Out of one, many / Headscapes is organized for the Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis by Lisa Melandri, Executive Director.
Kathy Butterly (b. 1963, Amityville, NY) has exhibited widely in the US and internationally. In 2019, Butterly was the subject of a solo exhibition at the Jan Shrem and Maria Manetti Shrem Museum of Art at UC Davis. Recently, Butterly’s work was featured in group exhibitions at the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art in Bentonville, AR and the Anderson Collection at Stanford University, CA. Her work is currently on view at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in the exhibition Shapes from Out of Nowhere: Ceramics from the Robert A. Ellison Jr. Collection. Butterly’s works are in the permanent collections of institutions including the Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia; Brooklyn Museum of Art; Carnegie Museum of Art, Pittsburgh; Detroit Institute of Arts; Museum of Fine Arts, Boston; Museum of Fine Arts, Houston; Museum of Modern Art, New York; Metropolitan Museum of Art; Portland Museum of Art, Portland, ME; and the de Young Museum, San Francisco, among others. In addition, Butterly has been the recipient of numerous awards and grants including a Louis Comfort Tiffany Foundation Grant (2017), a Guggenheim Fellowship Award (2014), a Smithsonian American Art Museum’s Contemporary Artist Award (2012), a Pollock-Krasner Foundation Grant (2011), and a Joan Mitchell Foundation Grant (2009). Butterly received her BFA at Moore College of Art and Design and an MFA at University of California, Davis. She lives and works in New York, NY.