Paul Soldner: Artist and Provocateur

Paul Soldner

In honor of Paul Soldner (1921-2011),  emeritus  professor of ceramics at Scripps College for more than three decades, the Ruth Chandler Williamson  Gallery presents Serendipity: Paul Soldner, Artist and Provocateur, August 27 through  December 11, 2011. The exhibition is part of the gallery’s yearlong celebration of ceramics and the instrumental role Scripps College has played in its development.

Serendipity illuminates Soldner’s creative life as an artist, featuring many works he made at Scripps, where he developed his distinctive approaches to raku and salt-fired ceramics. In addition  to vessels, the exhibition explores other aspects of his work, including wall pieces and monoprints, which demonstrate Soldner’s lesser-known but lively commentary on popular culture. Videos showing different perspectives of Soldner are also on view. Workshops devoted to Soldner’s special areas of expertise-raku, bonsai, and brush making­ accompany the exhibition.

Soldner’s refusal to place limitations on clay transformed  him into a pioneer, leading him to champion  American raku, a low-fire fast-fire process based on Japanese raku. Soldner’s take on raku embodies  his lifelong ambition to challenge the conventional.

“In the spirit of raku;’ Soldner said, “there is the necessity to embrace the element of surprise. There can be no fear of losing what was once planned, and there must be an urge to grow along with the discovery of the unknown. Make no demands, expect nothing, follow no absolute plan, be secure in change, learn to accept another  solution and, finally, prefer to gamble on your own intuition:’

“Serendipity” evokes a sense of the multifaceted Paul Soldner. His work in ceramics is world-renowned, yet less is known of Soldner’s interests and work in monoprints. The exhibition showcases both ceramics and monoprints and provides visitors with different sides of Soldner rarely seen in order to give them a more complete vision of who Paul Soldner was and how his interests and work often came together.


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