In the studio working on Book of Skulls
Photography Credit: Phil Sanders 2010
“I have a kind of prescient ability to make things. I so clearly see what it is that I want to make, that I sometimes feel that time is out of order, that I know the work before it exists. I see it and then proceed to fill in the blanks, so to speak, until the object, device, or image appears before me, a kind of out-of-mind/into-the-real-world transfer. My studio is a metaphysical-to-physical conversion operation. This behavior is as natural for me as breathing.
I am recognized as the grandfather of American Studio Slip Casting. I altered a common industrial process and made it something useful for the individual artist/craftsman. Before I did it, no one did it. In the context of my studio working processes, however, it was nothing special. What I did with plaster, mold making, casting slips, glazes, and firing was an extension of, what is for me, a normal procedure for making things.
When you view my work, you engage in a dialog between one individual and another; between me, the maker and yourself, the viewer. Strong work is compelling, captures your interest, is complex enough to sustain that interest, piques your curiosity, feels true to some, if not all, aspects of life as it is experienced. It is not hesitant, tentative, or annoying. It is forthright, risky, and unique to the artist’s personal vision and abilities, whatever those may be.”
-excerpt from a talk given by Tom Spleth at the Hodges Taylor Gallery, April 23, 2009
Tom Spleth attended the Kansas City Art Institute receiving his BFA in 1969. He continued his study, receiving an MFA in ceramics from Alfred University in 1971. Spleth returned to Alfred University in 1978 as Assistant Professor where he taught the next generation of ceramicists the fine art applications of slip casting.
Spleth left Alfred University in 1984 to complete a series of public art commissions for the Cameron Museum of Art and the cities of Raleigh, Durham and Atlanta. Tom created some of these public works at the John Michael Kohler Arts Center, as artist in residence. Spleth has exhibited, lectured and taught extensively both nationally (American Craft Museum, Renwick Gallery- Smithsonian Institute, Gregg Museum, Cameron Museum) and internationally (Spannocchia Foundation-Siena, Italy; Frans Masereel Center- Kasterlee, Belgium). Slpeth’s work can be found in the public collections of Cameron Museum, Kohler Co. and RISD Museum among others, in addition to numerous private collections.
Tom Spleth lives and works in Little Switzerland, NC where he continues to pioneer and teach new ceramic techniques.
- 2007 Solo retrospective at The Gregg Museum of Art and Design, Raleigh, NC
- 2003 Asheville Art Museum, Asheville, NC
- 2000 Hickory Museum of Art, Hickory, NC
- 1997 Cameron Museum, Wilmington, NC
- 1996 International Museum of Art, Alfred, NY
- 1988- 1992 NEA Art in Public Places Grant
- 1988 North Carolina Museum of Art, Raleigh, NC
- 1985 John Michael Kohler Arts Center, Sheboygan, WI
- 1978-1984 Assistant Professor of Art, Alfered University
- 1982 American Hand Gallery, Washington, DC
- 1981 American Craft Museum, NY, NY
- 1981 Renwick Gallery, National Museum of Art, Smithsonian Institute, Washington, DC
- 1980 Museum of the City of Philadelphia, Philadelphia, PA, Contemporary Ceramics: A Response to the Josiah Wedgwood Commemoration
- 1980 NEA Artist Fellow
Current Project- Book of Skulls
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