Exposure to the crosscurrents of disciplines and ethnicity result in the sculptural
pieces I 'bring into being'. Fortunate in being given 'new eyes' through study of
ikebana (Sogetsu) and chado (Japanese tea ceremony), I have become sensitive to the
understanding and deep appreciation of the use of negative space. The principles that
govern both the spirit of ikebana, and tea ceremony's profound appreciation of the tea
bowl – outranked only by the tea itself – are represented in my work. Both disciplines
are heavily invested as much on what is absent as what is present, and I try to preserve
that reliance in my pieces. All this coalesces with my own Scandinavian disposition
toward clean lines and spareness of expression.
The most successful pieces are those that encounter the least amount of interference
in terms of working with the clay; they seem to form themselves into the resulting
proportions and rhythms that arise. I try to remain receptive to the abundance of
opportunities that the clay provides and let the breadth of experience that I have been
exposed to 'take over.' The best description of this process would be a kind of
Raku provides the perfect medium for this expression in that it fuses opposites.
Surrendering to its unpredictability is an essential part of their formation - part of
an expression of 'spontaneous unreasoning' that is largely unconscious. My work is
informed by Nordic design principles that foster a deep admiration for simplicity and
spaciousness which resonates with my interpretation of Japanese aesthetics. This sculptural
work reflects a unique confluence between these diverse cultures, and is an expressed
appreciation of emptiness: honoring that which is manifesting by its absence as much as by
that which is apparent.
Born in the Chicago area to parents of Danish and Swedish descent, Stevens Strauss received
her first formal studio training as an undergraduate with abstract expressionist Vera Klement
at the University of Chicago. While living in Naples, Florida, raku became a consuming
interest and sculptural forms were accepted in local competitions and used in ikebana
exhibitions. After relocating to the Bay Area in 2003, she joined the Association of Clay
and Glass Artists and the Pacific Rim Sculptors Group, and has shown work in juried venues
across northern California. There she found an embracing collective artistic spirit and
support of her 'native' inclinations toward clean and spare design – a result of her
Scandinavian sensibility. At an exhibition in SOMA, she discovered Nordic 5 Arts and was
accepted as a member in 2008. She has studied with Susannah Israel and Andree Thompson in
the Bay Area, and has been strongly influenced by Paul Soldner (workshops) and Peter Voulkos.
Newer work has utilized iron oxide and Japanese glazes in expanding a repertoire of wall
pieces and non-functional forms.
Recent work was selected for inclusion in Feats of Clay 2008, ACGA's California Clay '08,
and PacRim's exhibit in Carmel's Carl Cherry Center for the Arts. Also in 2008, she was
featured in a three- person sculpture show at the Atrium in San Francisco's SOMA titled
'Texture X 3'. In 2009, two pieces were featured as part of the Nordic 5 Arts show at the
Eddie Rhodes Gallery at Contra Costa College.
web site: www.straku.com