Visiting Artist Lecture: Paul Kotula


Thursday, February 13, 1:00 p.m.
Ceramics Department Gallery, Columbus Drive Building, 280 S. Columbus Dr., room 156

Paul Kotula earned his BFA from Wayne State University and his MFA from the New York State College of Ceramics at Alfred University (1989). His work has been exhibited in such recent exhibitions are TableSpace, Fosdick Nelson Gallery, Alfred University and No Object is an Island: New Dialogues with the Cranbrook Collection, Cranbrook Art Museum. In 2011 he served as a preliminary juror for Gyeonggi International Ceramics Biennale 2011. Among his awards are two Individual Artists Fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and a grant from the Michigan Council for the Arts and Cultural Affairs. Paul Kotula is Assistant Professor of Ceramics at Michigan State University and the principal of Paul Kotula Projects. 


In the exhibition catalog Saarinen House and Garden: a Total Work of Art, then academy director, Roy Slade, explored the work of Finnish architect Eliel Saarineen. He wrote, "Eliel Saarineen believed that the architect designed everything, from the spoon to the cup to the table to the chair to the room to the house to the street to the city." While utopian in scope, his philosophy illuminates the importance of designed objects and their associative relationship within broader physical and social contexts.

As a maker of useful pots, I explore the spheres in which my objects exist. As a society consumed with casualness, I remain increasingly engaged in those events in which formality is still embraced and respected. I articulate individual pots and larger environments to both question and celebrate what we have ignored and what we desire. 

The beauty and power of pot making is that it can elicit a range of intellectual and emotional responses. The medium is primal. Pots are abstract. Subtle nuances of form and surface and the interactivity of haptic experience offer endless means of expression. Pots are also intimate. In a post-digital society increasing divorced from human interaction, it seems pertinent to offer objects that elevate and sustain our core human needs.