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Patti Warashina's Ceramics Explore the Human Condition

Dive into the captivating world of renowned ceramic artist Patti Warashina as she shares her artistic journey, insights, and inspiration behind her latest series, "The World Upside Down." Through her unique perspective, explore the complexities of human nature and society, all masterfully shaped in clay. Read on to learn more about Patti's extraordinary career and her thought-provoking creations.


About Patti Warashina

a view of the north gallery featuring Patti Warashina sculptures
Patti Warashina's, "The World Upside Down" currently on view in the North Gallery.

Patti Warashina is a ceramic artist who was born in Spokane, Washington in 1940. She received her BFA and MFA from the University of Washington and has been teaching at the university since 1967. Warashina is known for her large-scale, figurative ceramic sculptures that often explore themes of human nature and social commentary. She has received numerous awards for her work, including the 2012 Lifetime Achievement Award from the American Craft Council. Warashina's work is included in the collections of the Museum of Modern Art, the Smithsonian American Art Museum, and the Renwick Gallery.

Warashina's work is often humorous and satirical, but it also has a serious side. She is interested in exploring the absurdity of human nature and the foibles of society. Her sculptures often depict people in strange and unusual situations, and they often make a commentary on the human condition.

Warashina is a master of clay, and she is able to create sculptures that are both beautiful and thought-provoking. Her work is a testament to the power of art to communicate ideas and to make us think about the world around us.

A sculpture of a human standing on head holding a globe with its feet.
"World Upside Down" Earthenware, underglaze, glaze 29 x 17 x 17 HWD in. 2023

An Artist Statement - Patti Warashina

My fascination with human nature has been the subject for much of my past 60 years work in clay. It all started in the beginning with the curiosity of how to manipulate, control, and build with this soft, formless, and malleable material, into visual subjects that eventually reveal my interest in “human peculiarity”. Daily life is a constant and moving source for subject matter and gives me endless and fascinating topics from which to visually draw.

The political and societal problems that exist in the world throughout history also seem to provoke visual images which often inform my work. These figures have become the actors in my introspective narratives. I am able to analyze my own sentiments, emotional feelings, and distortion into something that I might call my “visual diary”.

These last three years of our “earthly society” have been a weird, mad, chaotic, irrational, disordered, and senseless time. Yet, there are also those in our society that are unyielding to these evil forces, that are trying hard to maintain its former presumable order.

In this series of work called, “The World Upside Down”, I view the earth as an uncontrolled symbolic, spinning “ceramic wheel” in space to give a glimpse of looking at our planet from above. To me the figures represent “human consciousness” observing and experiencing the realization of possible escape from annihilation portrayed through dreamlike, cosmic scenarios, using current and future space technology. These figures have become the actors in my introspective narratives, as a way of escaping the doubts and disharmony of human nature and its routines, by role-playing scenarios to my liking….much like a child playing with dolls.

A sculpture of a human on their belly looking up at a globe
"A World Apart" Earthenware, underglaze, glaze, mixed media 22 x 27 x 16 HWD in. 2023

Recent Awards & Honors

2022 American Craft Council Gold Medal Award American Craft Council, Minneapolis, MN

2022 Torch Bearer Award, Sri Chinmoy Oneness Home Peace Run, Seattle, WA

2021 The Meloy Stevenson Award of Distinction Archie Bray Foundation, Helena, MT

2020 Smithsonian Visionary Award Smithsonian Women's Committee, Washington, DC

2018 United States Artists Fellowship United States Artists, Chicago,IL


Patti Warashina's THE WORLD UPSIDE DOWN is on view now through May 29 in the North 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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