Ani Kasten


kast 0012 square vase with white staples

Kasten began her career in ceramics in 2000, apprenticing with British ceramist Rupert Spira. After a year in England gaining a foundation in functional studio pottery, Kasten traveled to Kathmandu, Nepal, where she spent four years as head of a project for developing a stoneware ceramic facility for artisan potters in the village of Thimi, Nepal. Her training in England and her experiences in Nepal were a formative influence on Kasten’s ceramic sculpture and vessels, which draw on minimalist British studio ceramics, as well as hand-made antiquities created by indigenous peoples throughout Asia.

Kasten greatly benefitted from sharing techniques and materials with artisans from far-flung cultures, and this has given rise to a unique artistic vocabulary that informs her own ceramic work. In 2005, Kasten established her studio in Oakland, California, where she shifted from making functional studio ceramics to also creating sculptural ceramics. In 2007 Kasten became an Artist in Residence at Red Dirt Studio in Mt. Rainier, MD, where she worked closely with artist Margaret Boozer. Here, she further developed her distinct combination of sculpture and vessel work, showing her ceramics nationally at galleries and fine craft shows. In 2012, she purchased an old shoe repair shop to house her studio as well as workspace for other artists. Kasten’s storefront studio and gallery, Artbar, was a draw for visitors and collectors, and became one of the neighborhood creative hotspots. In 2016, Kasten moved to the St. Croix River Valley, northeast of Minneapolis, Minnesota, where she is currently a host potter for the historic St. Croix Valley Pottery Tour.

Kasten lives in Shafer, Minnesota, on a small farm with a house and barn where her studio and showroom are located. She continues to exhibit her work nationally and internationally in galleries and fine craft exhibitions

 "Investigating the materiality of the clay is the foundation and focal point for all of my vessels, sculptures, and assemblages. I am influenced by natural and geological imagery, and my forms and compositions explore the meeting point of phenomena occurring in nature and objects wrought by the human hand. The pieces weave these two points of origin into integrated landscapes, where I look for a balance between the naturally occurring tendencies of the materials, the force of my hands, and my aesthetic ideas. I make use of wheel-throwing and hand-building techniques to explore the spectrum, breadth, and limits of clay. The interactions and relationships between differing clay bodies, which include black or white stoneware clay, porcelain, and locally sourced ‘wild clays’, as well as various types of stone added for texture, are what interest me as metaphors for human interactions and relationships. How does porcelain melt with, reject, bend, or shrink, in response to the proximity of stoneware, or islands of rock? My pieces highlight the natural proclivities of unadulterated clay in conversation with crafted attention to form and surface detail. My intent is to investigate relationships, and the nature of change—our actions as human beings as we form relationships, make, build, and construct the world around us, in harmony or disharmony with the natural processes of eroding, cracking, shifting, and changing shape. My pieces possess a ‘hereditary memory’ in their obscured reference to utilitarian vessels and other artifacts that once had a purpose, now buried, lost, or eroded by time. My ceramic objects remark on temporal beauty infused with loss, or the inevitability of change and the rigors of passing time. My practice is about creating positivity from the surrounding landscape of unavoidable brokenness. In my process I seek the refined within the rough, the beauty in ugliness—forms imbued with extreme fragility, yet exhibiting inner strength, manifesting the contradictions and opposing forces we find in ourselves throughout the human experience."

- Ani Kasten