Friday, March 16, 2007

Studio Visit: Jane Kaufmann, Sculptor

Jane Kaufmann is a sculptor who lives and works in Durham, New Hampshire. She works every day in her bright attic studio. Her work is made of clay that she raku fires in an oil drum in her driveway, then smolders in piles of pine needles that she rakes from the woods around her house. She has been making sculpture this way since the 1970s.

Jane's house is filled from top to bottom with her sculptures in every shape, size, and subject matter, along with the work of other artists she loves such as Susan Pratt-Smith, Tim Christensen-Kirby, and Kim Wintje. She also keeps a great garden. Click here for a marvelous tour of her garden on her website.

Jane's subject matter ranges from the domestic to the global, and her inspiration comes from many sources including her friends, Harper's Magazine, her garden, the news, the Bread and Puppet Circus, her cats, and people in the world who are struggling for justice. As she writes in her artist's statement, "I feel it is the artist's duty to address what is going on in the world. I think the artist should do this so the work can be understood by everyone... I believe that artists can help save the world--and I want to be part of that." She is very prolific and keeps her prices very low, which is very lucky for all of us!

Besides being an artist, Jane is a Quaker and a social activist. Her husband, Dick (yup, Dick and Jane), is a physics professor at UNH. They have children and grandchildren, but I'm not sure how many.

I have known Jane's work since I was a little kid. The parents of my old friend, Tras, were potters and had a studio and shop in a barn (where potter John Zentner works now), and I remember in the shop were all these foot-tall clay people, some of whom were naked (scandalously exciting to my 6-year-old Yankee self) covered in cobwebs and looking very curious to me. Years and years later I realized they were Jane's. My Mom collected her work, too, long before I met Jane. She was the first artisan we asked when we decided to start Greenjeans.

Jane's cats often make appearances in her work.

Jane at working in her studio.

What she's working on (incising a new wall piece).

More works in progress, and art-making implements in jars.

Incised orbs ready for bisque firing.

A shelf of older work.

Shelves holding fresh finger puppets.

Foot-high figural sculptures. Julia Child is in the center, mouth open, holding a chicken. Frida Kahlo, Andy Warhol, and Marie Antoinette are among this group, too.

Jane showing us photos taken at a Bread & Puppet Circus in the '80s. She's so cool.

Posted and images by Amy Shaw.

1 comment:

Mad said...

love getting to know Jane through you two-- :)