“I fell in love with the fluid and impressionable characteristics of this wonderful medium…” - Lisa Kurtz
Clay is the most malleable medium; you can stretch it, bend it, shape it, impose innumerable textures upon its surface so that it might look like anything else, yet it is also sturdy and durable. A teapot might last several lifetimes.
Lisa Kurtz’ “Sushi Serving Tray with Condiment Bowl and Spoon” has that strength and resiliency but bends with such fluidity that it might be mistaken for fabric. Kurtz explains how that commutation reaches back in her family history:
“My grandfather, Nick Guarneschelli, came over to the states to be an artist. He painted and did sculpture, eventually teaching at the Louisville School of Art. To support his growing family in Kentucky, he also worked as a tailor, as his family back home had been in the business for years. I have always loved the textures in fibers and material and I believe that stems from my Italian roots. I often use scraps of old fabric salvaged from my mother and grandmother’s houses to impress textures into the clay. When I do this I feel connected to generations of my family that came before me. My aunt is a prolific painter and I have many cousins that are also artists in different mediums. It seems artists breed artists. All three of my grown children are now working or studying in arts related fields.”
“As an artist and a maker of handmade objects, I always strive for the human connection between my work and the user of my pottery. The fact that people can use and enjoy my work in their everyday lives has been especially important to me as a potter. My work has evolved slowly over many years and I still enjoy fine-tuning those little details in my work that make it user friendly. I am most pleased if I make a handle on one of my pieces that beckons you to pick it up and then fits so comfortably in your hands that you want to use it every morning or at family meals or celebrations.”
Rocks and water have always inspired me. I am fascinated by the effect of water on the earth and the calming effect it has upon me. The textures and colors in water, sand, sea birds, shells, rocks, and marine creatures inform my work and my glazes. My goal is to infuse my work with the peaceful feelings that water worn rocks, landscape and waves give to me.
Kurtz has led a rich life as a professional artist making functional clay pieces, and she has taught at Cleveland State Community College in Cleveland, Tennessee, and Pellissippi State Community College in Knoxville, Tennessee. Since she moved back to Louisville, she has been teaching Art History online for Pellissippi. “I also give clay workshops and teach wheel throwing classes to students at all different levels. Most recently (Spring and Summer of 2018) I taught wheel throwing and making reed handles for pottery workshops at the Appalachian Arts Craft Center in Norris, Tennessee.”
“I have been lucky to learn from great teachers. I feel it’s really important to carry on the clay traditions and that’s one reason I like to teach. It has been a big part of my life for the past several years. If I can impart just a little bit of the joy I get from clay to my students, it is all worth it!”
I have always encouraged and welcomed the happy accidents that take place in the firing process. This is leading me to explore various methods of firing, including soda firing. I came to Louisville this summer to help build a new soda kiln at U of L. I am taking a post baccalaurette class there with Todd Burns to further my exploration of new work and soda firing. Emphasizing areas of shadow, shiny and matte surfaces is my goal. If I can accentuate textural qualities by the play of fire and vapor from the firing process, the work becomes more interesting to me visually and viscerally.
Kurtz has been an active member of several professional juried guilds, artist associations and boards, including the Kentucky Crafts Guild, the Foothills Craft Guild, The Kentucky Department of the Arts Marketing Program, The Knoxville Art Alliance, The New Prospect Craft Center, Tennessee Craft, The Knoxville Museum of Art and Terra Madre: Women in Clay. Her clay work has been exhibited and sold in galleries and shops across the U.S. and in national and regional juried fine art shows and craft fairs.
Lisa Kurtz will be participating in the 2018 Open Studio Weekend, sponsored by Louisville Visual Art and University of Louisville’s Hite Art Institute. Her studio, located in the Highlands neighborhood, will be open the weekend of November 3 and 4. Tickets for Open Studio Weekend will go on sale October 16. Click here for more information.
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Written by Keith Waits. Entire contents copyright © 2018 Louisville Visual Art. All rights reserved. In addition to his work at the LVA, Keith is also the Managing Editor of a website, Arts-Louisville.com, which covers local visual arts, theatre, and music in Louisville.