Betty Woodman (American born in Norwalk, Connecticut 1930 — )

The centrality of the vase in my work certainly implies a global perspective on art history and production. The container is a symbol – it holds and pours all fluids, stores food and contains everything from flowers to our final remains.

The dramatic and luminous effect of glazes attracted Woodman to ceramics, leading her to study at the School for American Craftsmen at Alfred University. She further developed her passion for clay when she moved to Italy, falling in love with Mediterranean art, a consequential influence for her work.

Having a background in ceramics, it is easy to peg Betty Woodman as a craftsperson. However, upon taking a closer look, Woodman is hardly just that. She is an artist whose work hovers above the line of art and craft, drawing its power from both. Woodman continues to embrace the vessel form, fundamental to ceramics, which she often coalesces with enigmatic, whimsical slabs and shapes, providing her with a dynamic three-dimensional canvas.

Remaining at the forefront of modernism, Woodman acknowledges Greek, Aztec and Tang civilizations, alongside Southern Baroque, American Slipware and 17th century Japanese oribe motifs, using her forms as a device to simultaneously explore the history of vessels and cultures.

Betty Woodman’s work evidences a lust for life. Referencing an array of styles and cultures on one object, Woodman challenges her medium and the stigma of the vessel form with a marriage of painting, sculpture and art history.