Richard Swanson – Red Lodge Clay Center

Richard SwansonHelena, Montana

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Richard maintains two studios in Helena, Montana, where he first arrived as an
Archie Bray Foundation resident in 1974. One studio, for figurative and
functional works in clay, he shares with Penny Price Swanson. In the other he
creates large scale abstract sculpture in diverse media. Awards include Individual
Artist Fellowships from the Montana Arts Council and Art Matters Foundation in
New York. His ceramic work is featured in many collections, including the Los
Angeles County Museum of Art, and in many books and articles, including the
LACMA publication Color and Fire, Defining Moments in Studio Ceramics,
1950-2000. His large scale, site-specific sculptures have permanent homes in
several states on the campuses of museums and universities. His interests include
collaborations with choreographers in museum, stage and landscape settings.
The artist says: “Whether I am working abstractly or figuratively, on an intimate
scale or monumental, I am constantly combining and simplifying to enhance the
way forms relate and flow together. The interaction of rhythm and balance is a
defining aesthetic for all my work.”


An important aspect of all my figurative sculpture, teapots included, is the way
forms relate and flow together. I am constantly combining and simplifying to
enhance movement/rhythm/unity. My work is informed by historical examples–
Yixing teapots, Inuit carvings, Pre-columbian ceramics, African sculpture and
Japanese netsuke carvings. I admire the concise vocabulary of these pieces, their
use of every day life as subject matter, their compact format and their
straightforword but unique way of relating figurative elements. In much of this
work, the traditions of sculpture and function come together in a way that
transcends ordinary ornamentation.

* I make the teapots in editions–each is one of a numbered edition of twenty-two or less. The
iron-red clay is fired to vitreousness, i.e., the clay particles have fused to the point of being
impervious to water. No glazes are used or needed. The satin-smooth surface is acheived by
multiple sandings at several stages of the teapot making process.