2020 Smithsonian Visionary Artist

Smithsonian Visionary Award

The Smithsonian Visionary Award is presented annually to living American artists who are deemed by curators and experts in the field to have risen to the pinnacle of sculptural arts and design, who have works in major museums, and who have demonstrated distinction, creativity, exceptional artistry, and, of course, vision in their respective medium.  The Award was initiated in 2014.  Winners to date include Albert Paley, Wendell Castle, Toots Zinsky, Dale Chihuly, Faith Ringgold, Joyce J. Scott and the 2020 winner Patti Warashina.

2020 Smithsonian Visionary Award winner Patti Warashina is honored for more than 50 years of ground-breaking work in ceramic sculpture.

Nora Atkinson, the Fleur and Charles Bresler Curator-in-Charge for the Renwick Gallery of the Smithsonian American Art Museum, describes the Seattle born artist as being “a defining figure in the West Coast Funk Art movement during the 1960s and 1970s, and one “who has been known throughout her long career for her mischievous figurative sculptures and tableaux.” Atkinson goes on to say that the artist uses humor and poignant social commentary “to address serious personal, political, and social subjects, from feminist critiques of the art world, to the internment of the Japanese during World War II, to the absurdity of contemporary social media“. 

Warashina, whose art is ever-evolving, has pushed the boundaries of ceramics well beyond function and, as one of the rare women in the field, she has paved the way for an entire new cadre of women artists.  Professor Emerita at the University of Washington, Patti dedicated decades to teaching ceramics, considered by some to be the most difficult and challenging of all art media.

Examples of her work are featured in the permanent collections of museums worldwide, including the Smithsonian American Art Museum’s Renwick Gallery, where her 1971 “Convertible Car Kiln” is currently on view.  Selected Warashina sculptures will also be on exhibit in the National Building Museum at the 2020 Smithsonian Craft Show. 

For more information on Patti Warashina, please see links below: