For more than 40 years the Ken and Pat Larson have explored the properties of clay to create “sculptural representations that elicit an imaginative response.” Pat Larson explains, “Clay is a flexible medium. All the things you can do with it—roll, fold, paddle, add, subtract, texture, burnish—offer virtually endless possibilities. Combine that with the different firings of raku and terra cotta and you have a lot of room to explore.”
Recipients of numerous awards, the Larsons work as a collaborative team to create their clay sculptures. Both artists began their work with clay at the University of Minnesota, Duluth, first creating functional stoneware and then over the years transitioning to sculptural work. “The collaboration allows each of us to work in the areas of greatest expertise,” Pat Larson said. Pat works mainly on handbuilding and low relief decoration, while Ken’s focus is on the main elements of a sculpture which may be either wheel-thrown and altered, or completely hand-built. Both work on design, passing ideas back and forth.
Ken Larson says their artwork is about their lives, experiences and interests. “It is a reflection of the wild land we live on as well as our backpacking experiences in the mountain and desert wilderness areas in the western United States.” An ongoing love affair with birds and other animals influences the Larsons’ sculpture; their focus on the land and its inhabitants has led to an exploration of the interaction between humans and the natural world.
“Virtually every piece we make has some kind of story behind it which gives the finished work added meaning beyond the decorative aesthetic,” Pat Larson said.