Body Language: Figures in Clay

February 4 - March 9, 2013

Susannah Israel

“There is an inherent paradox when working with so responsive a material as clay. Traces of touch - fingerprints, knuckle marks - are formed, moment by moment, with relentless fidelity. Such intimate contact of hand and clay remains far beyond the process, beyond even the life of the artist; it is a permanent record of human impermanence."

Susannah Israel has a gritty yet passionate view of humanity, drawn from city life.  She was born in New York and raised by a painter and a writer; as a young student she received a scholarship to Pratt Art Institute to study ceramics with Byron Temple.  She attended San Francisco State University for her B.A., majoring in art and chemistry, and returned to complete an M.F.A. in Ceramics after working independently in her own studio.  Israel's expressive work is widely exhibited, appearing in the collections of the Archie Bray Foundation, the Mint Museum's American Ceramics Collection, the Yinge Ceramics Museum, and many others around the world. Selected career distinctions include the Fletcher Challenge Premier Award, a Virginia Groot Foundation Award, the Vivika Heino Award, and the 1st Ernie Kim Award. Israel has been artist-in-residence at the Archie Bray, Mission Clay Art & Industry, the Jentel Foundation, Sculptor-On-Campus at CSU, Bakersfield, and the Mendocino Art Center.

Susannah Israel, Water Tower

Harnessing critical writing to contemporary clay concerns, as suggested by Dave Hickey, Israel began publishing reviews and articles in 2001 and was selected as the 2011 Jentel Critic at Archie Bray, a collaborative residency between the two foundations. Israel is a frequent visiting artist at schools and universities, and has given many workshops. She has worked in factory sites at Gladding, McBean in California and Mission Clay in Kansas, sculpting massive industrial clay pipe. Israel helped found the las cadre critique group, served as Education Committee Chair on the Board of Directors at the Richmond Art Center, and as co-Chair of the Laney College Art department. At home in east Oakland, she works in her studio at the Vulcan Foundry and teaches college courses in art.