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(Image courtesy of Carol Gouthro).

Artist of the Week: Carol Gouthro

Seattle might be notorious for niche coffee shops and scenic waterways, but locals know it's also home to an array of people who love to create. This city is chock-full of artists who we love to feature weekly on Seattle Refined! If you have a local artist in mind that you would like to see featured, let us know at And if you're wondering just what constitutes art, that's the beauty of it; it's up to you!

Seattle Refined: How long have you been creating? Do you work with other mediums?
CG: A little over 40 years. When I first started art school I wanted to be a painter, but after taking my first ceramics class. I switched my major, realizing I can paint on clay too. I do not work in any other mediums, I just have too many things I still want to make in clay.

Can you tell us about your artistic process and how the different stages work into it?
I work out ideas for form and surface patterns on paper with quick sketches and notes so that I have a starting point before I start working with clay, but the pieces usually change significantly from the sketches. I just use these sketches as a starting point.

I work with wet clay that I hand build, sculpt, mold, push, pinch, stretch etc. to make the shapes I want. For me this can be a long process taking days or weeks keeping things wrapped up in plastic so I can continue working on them over time. Next I apply color, I paint with ceramic materials, colored slips and under glazes which then get fired in the first kiln firing. Then after the work comes out of the first firing, I continue to work on the surface painting with ceramic stains, and glazes. I fire each piece two, three sometimes four times until I am satisfied with the results.

Tell us about where your inspiration for your art come from?
The first inspiration for my ceramics was in university in the 70's studying historical vessels from Greece, Persia, Italy, China, Japan etc. Then in the 80's it was contemporary design and architecture, Memphis, fabric design, etc. In the '90s I began building a garden, and over 25 years I filled it with plants and immersed myself in all things botanical. My obsession with plants led to looking at close up photography of plant structure and at microscopic images of plant forms . Finally I became enamored of botanical nomenclature words like "Articulatus," a recent piece. I began inventing a species of plants and naming then after myself, the plant explorer. This was the "Gouthroii" Series.

Do you have a specific “beat” you like best – nature, food, profiles etc?

Do you have one piece of art that means more to you, or is extremely special to you?
There are a few pieces over the years that have been very important in the progression of my work. I see them as breakthrough pieces that led me to the next stage in my development. One example is a piece called "Ripe #1" from many years ago. That piece was the first time I took a full volumetric clay form, laid it on its side and cut into the interior of the vessel. This prompted me to begin working on the inside of my forms as well as the outside.

What experiences in your life have affected your art the most?
Teaching ,traveling and gardening.

If we want to see more of your work where should we go to find?
I currently have an installation of my work in the Forum area of the Bellevue Arts Museum. It will be up until May 2019. I am represented in Seattle by Gallery IMA. I show in Portland at Eutectic Gallery. You can find everything on my website.

What is next for you? Anything you’re working on right now that you’re really excited about?
After spending a very busy year teaching workshops and making the pieces for my show Profusion at Eutectic Gallery in Portland I am taking a bit of a break for a couple months from large projects and having fun with two things. I am creating a series of candlesticks I call Tutti Fruitti Putti Candlesticks.

I am beginning to design and build a Tulipiere for a small show this April curated by Jeremy Buben. Six years ago I curated a large show of 33 Northwest artist made Tulipieres for the Museum of Northwest Art in La Conner I was the curator so I did not make one. Now I will finally make one.

Lastly, how do you take your coffee? We ask everyone!
First thing in the morning, strong, with the tiniest bit of milk.