Contemporary Craft in Focus: Glazescape (Green Shade)

Lauren Mabry's luscious ceramics and surprising inspiration

Media - 2022.10 - SAAM-2022.10_1 - 146130
Lauren Mabry, Glazescape (Green Shade), 2021, earthenware with slip and glaze, Smithsonian American Art Museum, Gift of Ted Rowland, 2022.10, © 2021, Lauren Mabry

In Glazescape (Green Shade), artist Lauren Mabry constructed a bold and dynamic sculpture from slabs of earthenware. To create the juicy characteristics of the surface, she piped a selection of glazes into the top cavity, then relinquished all control. During the firing process, the glazes melted down, colors mingling, and eventually hardened into glasslike strands. Mabry’s spontaneous process yields luscious, hypnotic patterns and textures, reminiscent of butterfly wings and otherworldly terrains. 

Lauren Mabry studied histories of ceramics and color at art school. Before that, she worked at a Dairy Queen in Wisconsin as a teenager. Her familiarity with soft serve and candy toppings has informed her ceramic practice in surprising ways. With an irrepressible appetite for color, she creates joyful, lyrical glazes reminiscent of abstract painters like Emma Amos, Helen Frankenthaler, and Lee Krasner. 

This Present Moment: Crafting a Better World marks the 50th anniversary of SAAM’s Renwick Gallery by celebrating the dynamic landscape of American craft. The exhibition explores how artists—including Black, Latinx, Asian American, LGBTQ+, Indigenous, and women artists—have crafted spaces for daydreaming, stories of persistence, models of resilience, and methods of activism that resonate today. In order to craft a better world, it must first be imagined. This story is part of a series that takes a closer look at selected artists and artworks with material drawn from exhibition texts, the catalogue, and artists' reflections.