Kurt Weiser

BIOGRAPHY

WEIS

 

“For years the work I did in ceramics was an effort to somehow express the beautiful nature of the material.  Somewhere in the midst of this struggle I realized that the materials are there to allow you to say what you need to say, not to tell you what to say. So I gave up trying to control nature and decided to use what I had learned about the materials to express some ideas about nature itself and my place in it.”

- Kurt Weiser

Believing that their young son was spending too much time with "a bad crowd," Weiser's parents sent him to the Interlochen Arts Academy, a boarding school located in northern Michigan. He studied ceramics under Ken Ferguson at the Kansas City Art Institute, earning his BFA in 1972. He attended the University of Michigan to earn his MFA in 1976. Weiser also directed the Archie Bray Foundation in Helena, MT, from 1977-1988. While at the Archie Bray Foundation, Weiser explored the possibilities of clay and focused on "somehow express[ing] the beautiful nature of the material." However, around the time of his departure, he had a significant conceptual breakthrough as he theorized that materials exist to allow artists to speak rather than to tell artists what they should speak. After he began teaching at Arizona State University, he started to delve into incorporating narrative scenes into his work. His first foray into experimenting with surface design resulted in a teapot displaying botanical imagery rendered in black and white sgraffito.] "Sgraffito," Italian for "to scratch," is a technique that involves applying color to a piece, and then scratching part of that layer off to reveal the clay beneath it. Soon, probably inspired by trips to Thailand, which boasts a colorful variety of plant life, Weiser began to incorporate China painting in his working methods,] ultimately moving toward more complex narrative scenes. They highlighted the proximity of man and nature, exploring binaries that, he hoped, would elicit a feeling of unease from his audience: "order and chaos, growth and decay, life and death, strength and weakness." “For years the work I did in ceramics was an effort to somehow express the beautiful nature of the material. Somewhere in the midst of this struggle I realized that the materials are there to allow you to say what you need to say, not to tell you what to say. So, I gave up trying to control nature and decided to use what I had learned about the materials to express some ideas about nature itself and my place in it.” Weiser's recent work has grown to include the form of world globes as well as teapots— although, in the spirit of continuing the trend of putting viewers on edge, these globes do not always represent the earth as it is commonly known and perceived. Instead, they venture into surreal or fantastic interpretations, oftentimes exploring, as his teapots do, scenes of collision between man and nature.