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Figure in Clay

Artist Gaff takes first place
at La Grange, Ky., Sculpture Show

Her figurative clay pieces capture the judge’s attention

LA GRANGE, Ky. (September 2019) – Sculptor Katherine Gaff’s work emphasizes the elegant curves that tend to ebb and flow within nature. She is drawn to clay and through that medium expresses a deeper meaning to her artwork, which is highly personal.

Photo provided

Katherine Gaff has a talent for creating clay figures like this show winner above.

Born and raised in Syracuse, Ind., Gaff said she “typically works with stoneware. I am able to create soft curves and really any kind of shape and pose that I desire. Then once it is fired, it is fairly durable and able to withstand the finishing process.”
Occasionally, there will be different materials used in the finishing process that are typically designed for ceramics. “I have done work in other mediums throughout school, such as painting, drawing, woodworking, metalsmithing, etc.,” she said. “But my current work has been 95 percent ceramics.”
Gaff, 25, said she has focused on sculpting for the last two years, so “I would say I am fairly new at it. I have only been focusing on figurative work for a year. I started out with pottery and learning sculpting with all kinds of mediums, but I found myself drawn to clay and I have been working with clay as the material for sculpting ever since.”
She is currently working toward a bachelor’s degree in Fine Arts at Purdue University Fort Wayne, focusing on sculpture. After graduating in December 2020, she plans to pursue a Master of Fine Arts degree.
“As my work has evolved, it has settled nicely within figurative work, as the beautiful curve of nature becomes an artistic language that allows for further discussion into the human condition,” she said. “Figurative work presents itself as a rather flexible arena in which my work can speak to several volumes of ideas.”
Gaff is the recent First Place winner in the Carved, Cast or Assembled Sculpture Show, hosted by the Arts Association of Oldham County. Her winning piece, a stoneware sculpture titled “Shut Up,” will be on display at Gallery 104 in
La Grange until Sept. 15.
“Shut Up” depicts “a woman covering her throat and mouth in an attempt to do what she is always told – to shut up,” Gaff said.
She said her inspiration when creating a piece of sculpture “stems from moments in my life that have been life-changing for me. I imagine a specific event, and I try to create a physical representation of that feeling, action, or event. For instance, ‘Shut Up’ is a representation of the many times throughout my life that I have been told that I talk too much,” the result of being passionate about a topic.

Katherine Gaff

Her fascination with this particular medium stems from the fact that the material itself “is incredibly meditative to me; I find the texture and the process to be very soothing and satisfying. I also just find the medium to be extremely flexible. Clay can be an angry beast at times, but once you’ve learned to tame it, it will do anything I ask of it, with the proper technique.”
Additional winners in the show include Marie-Elena Ottman, Second Place for her multimedia sculpture titled “Harvest-Cosecha;” Sharon Ramick, Third Place for her ceramic sculpture titled “Frenchie;” and Stephen Winter, Honorable Mention for his multimedia sculpture titled “Light Transmission.”
“In past years, three dimensional art was missing from our show schedule, so we’ve tried to include wearable art, ceramics, glass and sculpture as themed shows,” said Jim Cheski, show chair and vice president of the Art Association. “This is the second Sculpture Show, first held two years ago as “Carved, Cast and Assembled Sculpture Show.”
He said that pending interest, “We try to do this every two years. Laura Lenz-Bowman chaired the first show, judged by Bob Lockhart, Sculptor Emeritus from Bellarmine University and I won first place for my carved black walnut female torso, which serves as the art background for our current year ads.”
Seven artists were included in the Sculpture Show with 13 entries in such areas as ceramic, welded steel and glass. The criteria for judging were based on 2D or 3D sculpture in any medium or topic. Five artists are current members of the association, and two are non-members.
All artwork is for sale, ranging in price from $90 to $5,000. Winners were announced at an Opening Reception held Aug. 15. Awards were presented at that time.
As show chair, Cheski juried all entries. The show was judged by association member Vicki Bironis, who is also a La Grange art educator, ceramist and sculptor.
“What makes this show unique is the quality, variety of style, themes and mediums,” said Cheski.

• For more information, contact Gallery 104 at
(502) 222-3822.

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