Karen Shapiro Bio

Karen Shapiro (American b. 1947) makes larger-than-life sculptures of everyday objects. Representing domestic objects from beloved eras, a sense of nostalgia accompanies the crackled surfaces with vintage appeal.

At the age of 5 Shapiro painted with tap water images on the adobe brick walls surrounding her family house in Tucson. In high school she began working in clay which she continued as a design major in college. In an effort to redefine the perfect form, she focused on abstract shapes. After a substantial career as a pastry chef, she reentered the ceramic studio at the College of Marin, under the tutelage of Anne Peet Carrington. There, her focus shifted to the form of a milk carton, then to her espresso pot from Italy, next to an artichoke from the market. Her fascination with everyday shapes inspire her work today.

“The raku kiln provides the excitement of reaching into a red-hot environment with tongs, of the flaming bucket, even the choking smoke, and finding results I never dreamt of — always changing, always so much to learn — has given me back an enormous energy, appetite and passion for my work.”