Kirk Mangus

Kirk Mangus American Ceramic Artist

Kirk Mangus (1952 to 2013) was a ceramic artist and sculptor is known for playful, gestural style, and experimental glazing. Kirk’s work is known for having high relief surfaces deeply carved with personal iconic motifs on well-known classical forms. Kirk is inspired by Greco-Roman art, mythology, Japanese woodblock prints, comic books, and ceramics from Meso-America to the Middle East and Asia.

Kirk Mangus Background

In Kirk Mangus’ work in murals and other types of art as well as in clay, paper, wood, and other things, he draws from a wide range of sources.

Mangus was raised in Sharon, Pennsylvania, where he developed an early interest in painting thanks to his parents, who introduced him to Toshiko Takaezu, then a student at the Cleveland Institute of Art, and sent him to the Penland School of Crafts.

As a result of their inspiration and encouragement, he went on to get his BFA from the Rhode Island School of Design (1975) and his MFA from Washington State University, Pullman (1977), (1979).

Mangus remained friends with Takaezu throughout her life, and he continued to fire her work in his Anagama kilns in Pennsylvania and Ohio over the course of several decades.

Mangus was the Head of Ceramics at Kent State University from 1985 until his death in 2013. He also taught at the Alfred University Summer School, the Cleveland Institute of Art, and the Cranbrook Academy of Art, among other institutions. He has given numerous lectures around the United States and internationally.

He was married to Eva Kwong, who was also an artist and whom he met while an undergrad at the Rhode Island School of Design. Despite the fact that their work techniques were vastly different, they were both colleagues and collaborators.

Kirk Mangus Style

Murals, ceramic works on handmade paper, works in wood, and other mediums by Kirk draw on a vast and diverse range of inspirations and sources.

Clay bodies, Stoneware, colored slips, kiln-building, and the firing process were all areas in which he enjoyed experimenting with new mediums and local materials.

Kirk is a big fan of ancient Greco-Roman art, mythology, Japanese woodblock prints, comic books, folk stories, and ceramics from Meso-America to the Middle East and Asia.

Kirk Mangus Ceramic Vase Golden Child 2009
Kirk Mangus Ceramic Vase Golden Child 2009

Kirk is also influenced by the people he saw, the places he went, and his dream world, too. He was always looking for new materials, clay bodies, slips, kiln-building, and the firing process to play with.

Kirk Mangus’ work is known for having high relief surfaces that are deeply carved with personal iconic motifs on well-known classical forms or well-drawn, often whimsical, clear glaze, bronze glaze, glaze, Glaze underglaze, and overglaze designs on smooth, glossy surfaces with well-made, often silly, designs. Mangus is of course recognized for his fun style, and forms in my opinion that are not very refined, polished, or elegant (roughhewn forms). A graphic sensibility, heavily incised surfaces as well as unique stamping and applied embellishment, give the pieces a very busy and over the top physical presence. In addition very distinctive motif such prehistoric animal figures, plants, and bodies, were used in his approach to crafting. If I had to sum up his works in jsut two words it would be “modernist abstraction”.

Upon closer inspection of Kirk’s artwork, I notice echoes of early Asian pottery and classical Greek forms. His surfaces can be quite smooth and covered with spontaneous, brilliantly colored drawings, or they might be rough and deeply carved, like in the case of this piece. Kirk’s illustrations are mostly concerned with human connections, nature sceneries, and funny situations.

Kirk Mangus’ Experience

  • 1981, 1982, 1985, 1991,1993
    • Visiting Artist, Cranbrook Academy of Art, Bloomfield Hills, Michigan
  • 1983
    • Resident Artist, Omaha Brick Works, Omaha, Nebraska
  • 1982-1983
    • Cleveland Institute of Art, Cleveland, Ohio
  • 1984
    • Summer Session New York State School of Ceramics, Alfred University, Alfred, New York
  • 1985-2013
    • Professor, Head of Ceramics Department, Kent State University, Kent, Ohio
  • 1993
    • Invited Artist and Lecture, Shigaraki Ceramic Cultural Park, Shigaraki, Japan
  • 2003, 2002, 1988
    • Visiting Artist, Watershed Center for the Ceramic Arts, Northedgecomb, Maine
  • 2007
    • The Pottery Workshop, Shanghai and Jingdezhen, China

Kirk Mangus’ Collections

  • Amsterdam Municipal Collection, Amsterdam, Netherlands
  • Archie Bray Foundation, Helena, MT, USA
  • Arizona State University Art Museum, Tempe, AZ, USA
  • BP, Cleveland, OH, USA
  • BW Rogers, Akron, OH, USA
  • Canton Art Museum, Canton, OH, USA
  • Carleton College, Northfield, MN, USA
  • City of Panevesys Civic Art Gallery, Panevesys, Lithuania
  • The Clay Studio, Philadelphia, PA, USA
  • Cleveland Museum of Art, Cleveland, OH, USA
  • Cranbrook Art Museum, Bloomfield Hills, MI, USA
  • DeYoung Museum, Sandy Besser Collection, San Francisco, CA, USA
  • Eli & Edythe Broad Art Museum, Michigan State University, East Lansing, MI, USA
  • The Fabric Workshop, Philadelphia, PA, USA
  • Finnish Craft Museum, Helsinki, Finland
  • Frederick Weisman Museum of Art, Univ. of Minnesota, Minneapolis, MN, USA
  • Geometry/WPP, Cleveland, OH, USA (mural)
  • Geometry/WPP, Akron, OH, USA (mural reproduction)
  • Graystone Real Estate, Cleveland, OH, USA
  • Inchon World Ceramics Center, Suwon, Kyonggi Province, South Korea
  • Jinro International Ceramics Workshop, Seoul, South Korea
  • John Sinker Study Collection, Michigan State University, East Lansing, MI, USA
  • HAP Pottery, Beijing, China
  • Mangus’s widow, Contemporary Art Cleveland,
  • Kent State University, School of Art, Kent, OH, USA
  • Lakeside Studios, Lakeside, MI, USA
  • Musee-atelier du verre a Sars Poreries, Sars Poteries, France
  • National Museum of Contemporary Art, Seoul, South Korea
  • National Council on Education for the Ceramic Arts, Erie, CO, USA
  • MOCA Cleveland celebrates, MOCA Cleveland
  • Carl Solway Gallery
  • Newark Museum of Art, Newark, NJ, USA
  • Northern Clay Center, Minneapolis, MN, USA
  • Pizzuti Collection, Columbus, OH, USA
  • Ron Pizzuti, Palm Beach, FL, USA
  • Presidential Palace Grounds, Vilmius, Lithuania
  • The Pottery Workshop, Shanghai & Jingdezhen, China
  • San Bao Ceramic Art Institute, Jingdezhen, China
  • Schein-Joseph International Museum of Ceramic Art, Alfred University, Alfred, NY, USA
  • Shigaraki Ceramic Cultural Park Art Museum, Shigaraki, Japan
  • Southern Graphics Council Print Collection Southern Illinois University at Edwardsville, IL, USA
  • South Texas College, McAllen, TX, USA
  • Summit Artspace, City of Akron, Akron, OH, USA (mural)
  • Sun Valley Art Center, Sun Valley, ID, USA (Potters and Prints edition)
  • Univ. of Akron Print Collection, Akron, OH, USA
  • Univ. of Iowa Museum of Art, Gerry Eskin Ceramics Collection, Iowa City, IA, USA
  • Benedictine Park, Vilnius, Lithuania (Large Black CatGirl head sculpture)
  • South Bend Regional Art Museum, South Bend, IN, USA (set of monoprints)
  • World Ceramic Exposition 2001 Korea, Ichon World Ceramic Center, Suwon, Kyonggi Province, South Korea

Kirk Mangus’ Awards

  • 2006
    • National Council on the Education of Ceramic Arts International Residency Award to The Pottery Workshop, Shanghai and Experimental Sculpture Factory, Jingdezhen, China
    • National Endowment for the Arts, Challenge America: Reaching Every Community Fast Track Review Grant, Summit County Youth Employment for Success for The Mural Project, Akron, OH. (Primary Artist)
  • 2005
    • NCECA Purchase Award for their Permanent Collection, National Council on Education for the Ceramic Arts, Erie, CO. The 2005 Clay National Exhibition.
    • University of Maryland, Baltimore County, Baltimore, MD.
  • 2003
    • McKnight Foundation Fellowship Residency at the Northern Clay Center, Minneapolis, MN.
  • 1999
    • Ohio Arts Council Fellowship
  • 1996
    • Ohio Arts Council Fellowship
  • 1993
    • Invited Artist, “Jinro International Ceramic Workshop”, Seoul, Korea
    • Invited Artist and Lecture, Shigaraki Ceramic Cultural Park, Shigaraki, Japan
  • 1987
    • Ohio Arts Council Fellowship Grant
  • 1984
    • Pennsylvania Council on the Arts Fellowship Grant
  • 1982
    • National Endowment on the Arts Fellowship Grant

Ceramicists Who Shaped the Future of Art