The Ceramic Sculptures of Kathy Butterly

Kathy Butterly’s beautiful and odd sculptures are the result of a literal manipulation of traditional ceramic forms. Her latest exhibition of new work titled “Thought Presence”, on view now at James Cohan Gallery in New York, presents 24 new vessels that demand a full 360-degree exploration.

New Space Place, 2018

Inside Out, 2018

Each form begins with an existing generic store-bought vessel. Kathy replicates each “perfect” item in wet clay through a molding process, that she can then physically distort. The resulting new sculptures are glazed and fired up to 30 TIMES each, building up layers that often crack or add new volumes.

Lip Service, 2018

Lip Service, 2018 (detail)

These aren’t ceramics anyone should experience sitting down. You’ll find yourself (and watch other visitors) circling every work multiple times. Each sculpture is a surprise from every angle, often appearing as 2 entirely unique objects from front to back. At the same time, each work is littered with incredible tiny details that require a close and quiet examination – from tiny bead-like trim to confetti-like outgrowths.

Flux, 2018

Peaceable Yellow, 2018

Green Reach, 2018

No Doubt, 2018

The #1 job of art is to keep you looking – and Butterly’s ceramics are impossible to turn away from. Like the night sky, you’ll just see more the longer you look.

Kathy Butterly, ‘Thought Presence’, James Cohan Gallery

Kathy Butterly, ‘Thought Presence’, James Cohan Gallery

Kathy Butterly, ‘Thought Presence’, James Cohan Gallery

Kathy Butterly, ‘Thought Presence’, James Cohan Gallery

What: Kathy Butterly: Thought Presence
Where: James Cohan Gallery, 533 W 26th St, New York, NY
When: September 6 – October 20, 2018

All images © Kathy Butterly courtesy of the artist and James Cohan, New York. Installation photos by Phoebe d’Huerle. 

David Behringer visits over 200 galleries every month to uncover and share the most exciting contemporary art in New York today. Subscribe to his exclusive weekly newsletter at and learn about his private gallery tours. And be sure to check out his YouTube.