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Master of Ceramics: A Retrospective of Geoffrey Pagen's THE PORTLAND YEARS

We invite you to join us in the Nichols Gallery for the exhibition, "The Portland Years," an illustrious retrospective of Geoffrey Pagen's significant contributions to ceramic art. The exhibition encapsulates Pagen's extensive oeuvre, presenting over 100 commissioned, site-specific ceramic projects from around the globe. Leveraging his extensive tenure as the Head of the Ceramics Program at Reed College from 1979-2014, Pagen has seamlessly woven the threads of studio practice and academic leadership into his work. This tribute to his sustained commitment to the ceramic arts is on display through May 29th.


About Geoffrey Pagen

Docent training session captured in the Nichols Gallery, March 3, 2023. From left: Karen Woldtvedt (SJIMA Videographer), Geoffrey Pagen, Marney Reynolds (Docent Lead).

Delving into the world of Geoffrey Pagen is an exploration of depth, texture, and a global vision encapsulated in ceramic forms. Born in San Jose, California, in 1951, Pagen's creative journey has been a continuous dance between form and surface, marrying his fascination with the physical properties of glazed, fired clay and the formal properties of the two-dimensional surface. His work, which has graced over 100 site-specific locations throughout the United States and abroad, speaks to the universal language of art and ceramics, with a career that boasts 39 solo exhibitions and 80 group shows since 1975.

Rosso e Nero Ceramic 30 x 40 x 2 in. 2013

“Geoffrey Pagen's wall reliefs and works on paper synthesize his fascination with the physical properties of glazed, fired clay, and his interest in the formal properties of the two dimensional surface.
Created with many types of glazes, on large slabs of clay, Pagen's reliefs evoke archeological ruins and the natural forces which wear them down. Art historically, his moody, layered textures and serial geometric compositions fuse Abstract Expressionism and Minimalist concerns. Yet always Pagen's work possesses a direct, unapologetic sensuousness which transcends all references." - John Weber, Portland, OR

Drakkar Wood, steel, mixed media 29 x 60 x 2 in. 2023

The foundations of Pagen's creative journey were laid at Palo Alto High School under the guidance of Cramer Owen. He graduated with Honors and a BFA in Studio Art from the University of Puget Sound in Tacoma, Washington, in 1973, followed by an MFA in Ceramics from the Rhode Island School of Design in Providence, Rhode Island, in 1975.

Pagen’s commitment to his craft has been recognized with a Fellowship Grant from the National Endowment for the Arts in 1982, and a Fellowship Grant from the Oregon Arts Commission in 1986. Apart from his prolific studio work, Pagen’s influence in the field of ceramics extends to his time as the Head of the Ceramics Program at Reed College in Portland, Oregon, from 1979–2014.

His work is included in esteemed collections around the world, from the Reed College in Portland, OR, and Stanford University in Palo Alto, CA, to the Royal Caribbean Cruise Line in Oslo, Norway, and the US Embassy in Bujumbura, Burundi, Africa.

Pagen's body of work is a testament to the transformative power of ceramics, and the profound impact an artist can have on the perception and understanding of this medium.


An Artist Statement - Geoffrey Pagen

"At its most fundamental, my work is a distillation and a synthesis. Pulling from memory, science, and the natural world; color and light, I create work that inhabits the space between painting and sculpture.
Manipulating materials that are inherently complex and dynamic — I create ceramic and enamel/steel “paintings” that elicit the balance and tension between two and three-dimensional perception, between the abstract and minimal, and the organic and chemical.
Complex textures, extravagant and kinetic expression of pattern and color integrate the subconscious fusion of experience and knowledge and that results in works whose meanings are ultimately mysterious even to me."

Pagen's works on view now through May 29 in the Nichols Gallery.

Selected Exhibitions

2017, 2014, 2011, 2008, 2004 Laura Russo Gallery, Portland, OR

2012, 2009 Jeffrey Moose Gallery, Seattle, WA

2006, 1988, 1982 Vollum Gallery, Reed College, Portland, OR

2005 Calvin Charles Gallery, Scottsdale, AZ

2004 Nancy Margolis Gallery, New York, NY

2003 Margo Jacobsen Gallery, Portland, OR

2001, 1995, 1994, 1991, 1988 Elizabeth Leach Gallery, Portland, OR

1999 Brendan Walter Gallery, Santa Monica, CA

1990 Jamison Thomas Gallery, New York, NY


Geoffrey Pagen's THE PORTLAND YEARS is on view now through May 29 in the Nichols Gallery and is sponsored by The Honeywell Charitable Fund, Town of Friday Harbor, National Endowment for the Arts, ArtsWA, Printonyx, Browne’s Home Center, and Harbor Rentals.

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