Chris Gustin is an American ceramicist born 1952 in Chicago, Illinois. Gustin’s art is based on the human form, as evidenced by the shape, color, and scale of the pieces. Gustin creates sensual, curvaceous objects that speak to the human figure as well as the artist’s hand. Chris received his BFA from the Kansas City Art Institute in 1975 and his MFA from Alfred University in 1977.
Chris Gustin (born 1952 in Chicago, Illinois) is a ceramic artist from the United States. Gustin’s art is inspired by the human body, which is reflected in the shape, color, and scale of the objects created.
The work of Chris Smith has been widely published, and it is included in numerous public and private collections, including the Renwick Gallery at the National Museum of American Art, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, the Victoria and Albert Museum, the World Ceramic Exposition Foundation in Icheon, Korea, the American Museum of Ceramic Art, the Currier Museum of Art, the Yingge Museum in Taipai, and the Daum Museum of Contemporary Art.
Chris Gustin Career
He was born in the Midwest, but grew up in Los Angeles, where his parents ran and co-owned multiple commercial ceramic enterprises. Gustin is an American actor and director. Gustin developed an interest in pottery as a result of his upbringing in such an environment.
He majored in biology and sociology during his first semester at the University of California, Irvine, then participated in an introductory pottery course under the direction of John Mason during his second semester. After that first semester, Gustin dropped out of school to continue working at Wildwood Ceramics, one of his family’s manufacturing businesses. After two years, he rose through the ranks to become the foreman and general manager.
Gustin returned to school in 1972, a year after he had left Wildwood Ceramics. In 1975, he graduated with honors from the Kansas City Art Institute with a BFA in ceramics. Two years later, he graduated with honors from the New York State College of Ceramics at Alfred University, earning his Master of Fine Arts degree. It was during this time period that Gusting and his sister-in-law, Jane, began working in the studio together, each creating their own unique ceramic work.
Chris Gustin Teaching Career
Gustin’s teaching career began in 1978 when he graduated from high school. He was a professor at Parson’s School of Design in New York from 1978 to 1980. In 1980, he began working as an Assistant Professor of Ceramics at Boston University in New Bedford, Massachusetts. The university relocated in 1985, and Gustin followed, eventually becoming an Associate Professor of Ceramics and then the program’s director.
During his ten-year employment, Gustin rose through the ranks to become a senior faculty member, holding the position of Associate Professor of Ceramics.
“I want my work to…suggest something that is just on the other side of consciousness. I don’t want my pots to conjure up a singular recollection, but ones that change with each glance, with each change of light.”
Chris Gustin Continuing Work
Gustin continued to work on other artistic projects throughout his years spent teaching and moved from school to school. During the summer of 1986, he collaborated with artists Margaret Griggs, George Mason, and Lynn Duryea on the restoration of an ancient brick factory in Newcastle, Maine.
As a result of their efforts, the building was transformed into the Watershed Center for Ceramic Arts. Every year, more than 100 artists travel to Watershed to complete their work.
Gustin and his wife, painter Nancy Train Smith, began working on the design of their own home in 1994. They worked in collaboration with the architect Michele Foster, and Gustin was responsible for the production of every tile that was used in the construction of the house. Gustin Ceramics Tile Production was founded as a result of his previous experience.
Gustin withdrew from teaching in 1999 to dedicate more attention to his studio work and to Gustin Ceramic Tile Productions, which he founded.
Chris Gustin Style
Chris Gustin is a ceramic artist who produces sensual, curvy pieces that speak to the human figure as well as the artist’s hand and technique. Gustin’s works in clay, whether in the shape of useful items or more sculptural containers, explore the possibilities of abstraction in clay, emphasizing the tensions between volume and surface, color and natural clay, and a layer of glaze.
Although the majority of his work relates to function, the utilization of the pottery is significant due to the tremendous possibilities for abstraction it offers. The interior of the vessel is held in place by the skin of the clay, which is invisible to the naked eye. The way he manipulates his forms, limiting them, confining them, or allowing them to expand and swell, can allow analogy and metaphor to enter the work.
“Chris Gustin artwork elicits a mental image in the observer as if to allude to something that exists just on the other side of the conscious mind. As a result, the observer is presented with a different perspective with each glance.”
He employs surfaces that intentionally invite touch, and by inviting the hand to explore the forms as well as the eye, he can create a more immersive experience. He intends to elicit a plethora of memories, recollections that can shift from one second to the next.
“My work explores the vessel form on a human scale, taking simple, historical pottery forms and jumping them up in scale as a vehicle for abstraction. By increasing pottery form to the scale of the human body, I’m altering the expected dialogue between the object and user from that of the hand to one of the body. This ”body” scale speaks on a subliminal level to the entire histories of our experience. By using forms and glazes that evoke generosity, sensuality, fullness and humility, I am asking the viewer to make connections on a deeply personal level. This is what I depend on: the desire in all of us to reach out and touch, and by doing so, to trigger memory that is both felt and connected, memory that quietly waits to come to consciousness. This innate connection is for me the primal language of ceramic vessel form. It has the potential to reflect our universal human story, regardless of politics, culture or history.”
Chris Gustin Exhibitions
The artist has exhibited, lectured, and taught workshops all over the world, including the United States, the Caribbean and South America. He has also lectured and taught workshops in Europe, the Middle East, and Asia.
He has earned two Artist Fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and four Artist Fellowships from the Massachusetts Cultural Council, the most recent of which was awarded in 2017. The International Academy of Ceramics has inducted him as a member, and in 2016 he was elected to the College of Fellows of the American Craft Council. This year, the Renwick Alliance honored him by presenting him with the Masters of the Medium award.
Chris Cox is a cofounder of the Watershed Center for the Ceramic Arts in Maine, where he currently serves on the board of directors as Honorary Trustee.
Gustin’s Solo Exhibitions Have Taken Place All Around The United States, Including
- 2014: Chris Gustin: Masterworks in Clay, American Museum of Ceramic Art, Pomona, CA
- 2013: Chris Gustin: Recent Works, Lighthouse Art Center, Jupiter, GL (now Lighthouse ArtCenter Gallery, Tequesta, FL)
- 2010: Circling into Now, University of Massachusetts-Dartmouth, Dartmouth, MA
- 2006: Embodiment, Sculptures Objects Functional Art+ Design Fair, Chicago, IL
- 2003: Elder Gallery, New York City, NY
- 2002: Judy Ann Goldman Fine Arts, Boston, MA
- 1999: Gallery Material, Scottsdale, AZ
- 1999: Paul Mellon Arts Center, Wallingford, CT
- 1994: Manchester Craftsmen’s Guild, Pittsburgh, PA
- 1992: Pro Art Gallery, St. Louis, MO
- 1988: Kalamazoo Institute of Arts, Kalamazoo, MI
- 1984: Ree Schonlau Gallery, Omaha, NE
- 1981: Greenwich House Gallery, Greenwich House Pottery, New York City, NY
Gustin’s Work Has Been Included In The Following Group Exhibits, Which Have Taken Place Both In The United States And Abroad
- 2017: Variations on a Theme: Teapots from RAM’s Collection, Racine Art Museum, Racine WI
- 2014: Magic Mud: Masterworks in Clay from RAM’s Collection, Racine Art Museum, Racine, Wi
- 2013: Sasama International Symposium Exhibition, Verkehr Museum, Shizuoka, Japan
- 2013: Stark Contrasts: Black and White Ceramics from RAM’s Collection, Racine Art Museum, Racine, WI
- 2011: The Elusive Teabowl, Lacoste Gallery, Concord, MA
- 2009: Simply Formal, Museum of Anthropology, Arizona State University, Tempe, AZ
- 2008: Into the Woods: A Fiery Tail, American Museum of Ceramic Art, Pomona, CA
- 2008: Shino: Snow and Fire, the Madison de la Céramique Contemporaine, Giroussens, France
- 2007: Skin of Asia, the 4th World Ceramic Biennial Invitational Exhibition, Icheon World Ceramic Center, Icheon, Korea
- 2004: Teapots: Objects to Subject, Craft Alliance, St. Louis, MO (now Craft Alliance Center of Art + Design, University City, MO)
- 2002: International Teapot Exhibition, Yingge Ceramics Museum, Taipei, Taiwan, Republic of China
- 2000: Color and Fire: Defining Moments in Studio Ceramics, 1950-2000, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Los Angeles, CA
- 1996: A Madcap Teapot Part at the Renwick, Renwick Gallery of the Smithsonian American Art Museum, Washington, D.C.
- 1989: Exposiçao—Ceramica Na Quinta De San Miguel, Galeria Municipal de Arte, Almada Portugal
- 1986: American Potters Today, Victoria and Albert Museum, London, England
- 1979: Marietta Craft National, Marietta College, Marietta, OH
There Are Several Museum Collections That Feature Gustin’s Work
- American Museum of Ceramic Art, Pomona, CA
- Archie Bray Foundation for the Ceramic Arts, Helena, MT
- Arizona State University, Tempe, AZ
- Currier Museum of Art, Manchester, NH
- Daum Museum of Contemporary Art, Sedalia, MO
- Everson Museum of Art, Syracuse, NY
- Icheon World Ceramic Center, Icheon, Korea
- Kalamazoo Institute of Arts, Kalamazoo, MI
- Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Los Angeles, CA
- Mint Museum, Charlotte, NC
- Museum of Arts and Design, New York City, NY
- Racine Art Museum, Racine, WI
- Renwick Gallery of the Smithsonian American Art Museum, Washington D.C.
- Rhode Island School of Design Museum, Providence, RI
- San Angelo Museum of Fine Arts, San Angelo, TX
- Shigaraki Ceramic Cultural Park, Shiga Prefecture, Japan
- Victoria and Albert Museum, London, England