denmark finland iceland norway sweden
Soliloqui
Soliloquy
Ceramic
18" x 10" x 5"
Pine with Moon Companion
Pine with Moon Companion
Ceramic
14" x 14" x 3"
Cedar Homage
Cedar Homage
Ceramic
12" x 11" x 4"
Tanabata
Tanabata
Ceramic
4" x 14" x 11"
Offering Asana
Offering Asana
Ceramic
4" x 14" x 3"
artists
stevens strauss

Exposure to the crosscurrents of disciplines and ethnicity result in the sculptural pieces I 'bring into being'. Fortunate in being given 'new eyes' through study of ikebana (Sogetsu) and chado (Japanese tea ceremony), I have become sensitive to the understanding and deep appreciation of the use of negative space. The principles that govern both the spirit of ikebana, and tea ceremony's profound appreciation of the tea bowl – outranked only by the tea itself – are represented in my work. Both disciplines are heavily invested as much on what is absent as what is present, and I try to preserve that reliance in my pieces. All this coalesces with my own Scandinavian disposition toward clean lines and spareness of expression.

The most successful pieces are those that encounter the least amount of interference in terms of working with the clay; they seem to form themselves into the resulting proportions and rhythms that arise. I try to remain receptive to the abundance of opportunities that the clay provides and let the breadth of experience that I have been exposed to 'take over.' The best description of this process would be a kind of 'astonished midwifery.'

Raku provides the perfect medium for this expression in that it fuses opposites. Surrendering to its unpredictability is an essential part of their formation - part of an expression of 'spontaneous unreasoning' that is largely unconscious. My work is informed by Nordic design principles that foster a deep admiration for simplicity and spaciousness which resonates with my interpretation of Japanese aesthetics. This sculptural work reflects a unique confluence between these diverse cultures, and is an expressed appreciation of emptiness: honoring that which is manifesting by its absence as much as by that which is apparent.


Born in the Chicago area to parents of Danish and Swedish descent, Stevens Strauss received her first formal studio training as an undergraduate with abstract expressionist Vera Klement at the University of Chicago. While living in Naples, Florida, raku became a consuming interest and sculptural forms were accepted in local competitions and used in ikebana exhibitions. After relocating to the Bay Area in 2003, she joined the Association of Clay and Glass Artists and the Pacific Rim Sculptors Group, and has shown work in juried venues across northern California. There she found an embracing collective artistic spirit and support of her 'native' inclinations toward clean and spare design – a result of her Scandinavian sensibility. At an exhibition in SOMA, she discovered Nordic 5 Arts and was accepted as a member in 2008. She has studied with Susannah Israel and Andree Thompson in the Bay Area, and has been strongly influenced by Paul Soldner (workshops) and Peter Voulkos. Newer work has utilized iron oxide and Japanese glazes in expanding a repertoire of wall pieces and non-functional forms.

Recent work was selected for inclusion in Feats of Clay 2008, ACGA's California Clay '08, and PacRim's exhibit in Carmel's Carl Cherry Center for the Arts. Also in 2008, she was featured in a three- person sculpture show at the Atrium in San Francisco's SOMA titled 'Texture X 3'. In 2009, two pieces were featured as part of the Nordic 5 Arts show at the Eddie Rhodes Gallery at Contra Costa College.

Stevens Strauss

e-mail: straku@earthlink.net
web site: www.straku.com