Scope and Contents
An interview of Patti Warashina conducted 2005 September 8, by Doug Jeck, for the Archives of American Art's Nanette L. Laitman Documentation Project for Craft and Decorative Arts in America, at the artist's home and studio, in Seattle, Washington.
Scope and Contents
Warashina discusses her childhood in Spokane, Washington, as the youngest of three children of Japanese immigrants; her first experience with art, which was working on murals in elementary school; getting through school by doing visual art projects, including one on fashion design for a French class; her great-grandmother who sold pottery and rice off a cart in her native Japan; her working processes and moving from high-fire to low-fire glazes, as well as dealing with color and decoration in her work; making increasingly larger pieces and thus discovering more surfaces on which to paint; learning how to make hand-built pieces, and in general learning how to control her material; spending her early years working in a vacuum because she was busy raising a family during the day and working in the studio all night; the influence of Surrealism, the Funk movement, and the Chicago Hairy Who on her work; her love of clay as a medium because it presents challenges and technical variables that keep the work interesting; the status of clay as a valid artistic material, and how that has changed over the course of art history; her own personal definition of art as something that "raises your blood pressure," and what makes a "a good pot into a work of art instead of just a pot"; the difference between her early and later work, which she calls cumulative process; her move to the figure, which came naturally out of her earlier work and was in keeping with the Surrealist images to which she was so attracted; recent series of her work, including Mile Post Queens, and Sake Sets: The Drunken Power Series; the role of the figure in her work and the unique challenges they present; being a self-proclaimed "news junkie" and listening to jazz while she works; spending 30 years teaching and the influence it had on her career; her mother as a strong influence and role model in her life, as well as her mother's interest in crafts and gardening; and the influence of artists such as Hieronymous Bosch, René Magritte and Joan Miró on her work. Warashina recalls Robert Sperry, Fred Bauer, Peter Voulkos, Robert Arneson, Toshiko Takaezu, Henry Takemoto, Garth Clark, Howard Cotler, Matthew Kangas, Warren McKenzie, Nan McKinnell, Bernard Leach, Shoji Hamada, Soetsu Yanagi, and others.