Kathy Butterly

Amazing Feats of Clay on a Diminutive Scale


One of today’s most imaginative artists working in clay, Kathy Butterly makes small sculptures that are engaging, comical, disturbing, and wholly unexpected adventures in this tricky medium. She talks about her coming of age as an artist, discovering clay, and her famous mentors, Bob Arneson and Viola Frey. Her emotional life has often had an impact on her work, and she describes how the suicide of a long-time boyfriend when she was younger led to her need to work on a more accessible scale. Her next beau, painter Tom Burckhardt, became her husband, and they have been “courting through art” for 25 years.

Butterly’s average piece is anywhere between three and seven inches tall, and may require up to 45 firings. “Even though I work on a small scale,” she says. “I have very big thoughts.”


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