Barbara Sorensen Monumental Ceramics

Barbara Sorensen is a pretty incredible person. I first met her at an Anderson Ranch workshop conference in Snowmass, Colorado; she was having a show in downtown Aspen. I had no idea at the time that she had been one of Don Reitz’s students in Madison at the University of Wisconsin. We were all there along with Peter Voulkos, Paul Soldner, Don Reitz and Ken Price, among many others. This was one of those historic workshop conferences that mark the unique togetherness of the ceramic art movement.

Barbara’s prior work in the show (work from the 80s and 90s) was characterized by elegant simplicity yet strongly derivative of the vessel. Beautiful in their simplicity and rich color, their good forms hold up today as an important milestone in her creative life – great textures with sturdy impact of color. Today her work from that period has moved from an explorative period of colorful pieces to sculptures that loom large on her very personal landscape. They have a towering and graceful architectural presence. Some are precariously balanced one on top of the other to lead the eye upward in a game of globes and balance – worlds of fascinating orbs of clay hanging over your head. The others are close as in implied space, like architectural elements. Clearly Barbara’s work has now acquired exception control – but with an added bonus – she still holds on to interesting and memorable surface richness.

Barbara was among the first who was not afraid to confront the use of paper clay which has turned out to be a productive medium for her work. Paper clay wasn’t very popular among clay artists at first. I confess, I was one of the first ones to say it wouldn’t work. How wrong I was! Today you have to look at Barbara Sorensen’s ambitious scale and her process of simplification that has made monumental size impact the senses. I also have to admire her tenacious ambition. Barbara’s fortunate search continues to add another dimension to her creative achievement. I am impressed and I am sure that her mentor, Don Reitz, would agree, we have all seen this young lady come into her own to be the important and mature artist she is today.

Rudy Autio, American Ceramic Legend, Artist