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Tom Spleth

Tom Spleth

Tom Spleth is known as the grandfather of American studio slipcasting. He altered a common industrial process and made it something useful for the individual artist. Tom creates functional pottery, and architectural and sculptural ceramics. His long career as an artist also includes drawing and painting.

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Tom Spleth Housefly Cup at MudFire Gallery
Price: $50.00
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Tom Spleth Cafe Cup at MudFire Gallery
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Tom Spleth Leopard in Pyjamas Cup at MudFire Gallery
Price: $50.00
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Tom Spleth Cubist Breakfast Cup at MudFire Gallery
Price: $50.00
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Tom Spleth Stop Talking Cup at MudFire Gallery
Price: $50.00
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Tom Spleth Crapped Out Cup at MudFire Gallery
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Tom Spleth Holy Cow Cup at MudFire Gallery
Price: $50.00
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Tom Spleth Pull My Finger Cup at MudFire Gallery
Price: $50.00
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Tom Spleth Loser Vibe Cup at MudFire Gallery
Price: $50.00
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Tom Spleth Torment Cup at MudFire Gallery
Price: $50.00
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Tom Spleth Vase Form at MudFire Gallery
Price: $1,800.00
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Tom Spleth Vase Form at MudFire Gallery
Price: $2,200.00
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Tom Spleth Sculptural Form at MudFire Gallery
Price: $2,400.00
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Tom Spleth Sculptural Form at MudFire Gallery
Price: $2,200.00
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Tom Spleth Sculptural Form at MudFire Gallery
Price: $2,200.00
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Tom Spleth Sculptural Pair at MudFire Gallery
Price: $4,600.00
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Tom Spleth Vase Form at MudFire Gallery
Price: $4,200.00
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Tom Spleth Vase Form at MudFire Gallery
Price: $4,200.00
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Tom Spleth Vase Form at MudFire Gallery
Price: $2,800.00
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Tom Spleth Bowl at MudFire Gallery
Price: $400.00
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Tom Spleth Bowl at MudFire Gallery
Price: $400.00
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Tom Spleth at MudFire

Providing ongoing representation
Solo show, October 2011
Gallery group show Constructed, April 2010

 

Tom Spleth Artist Bio

Born in Tulsa, Tom Spleth earned his BFA from the Kansas City Art Institute and his MFA from the College of Ceramics at Alfred University. Exhibitions include the Gregg Museum, North Carolina State University, the McColl Center, the Southeastern Center for Contemporary Art, the Asheville Art Museum, and the North Carolina Museum of Art. Collections include Cameron Museum, Wilmington, NC; Illinois State University, Kohler Company, and the Rhode Island School of Design. Spleth has been awarded numerous public commissions through the North Carolina Arts Council, the National Endowment for the Arts, and the North Carolina Art in State Buildings Program. Tom's career as an artist includes drawing, painting, functional pottery, and architectural and sculptural ceramics.

Tom Spleth and Process

Tom's cutting edge ceramic explorations start with a puddle of wet, fluid, plaster on the floor. As the material starts to set, he scoops and slashes and paddles the plaster, and a solid vertical form starts to appear and harden. He has eight to ten minutes where the plaster is workable, during which he must work quickly and intuitively.

He makes a waste mold from the original form, then casts a solid plaster model from the mold. This model is further refined, with a final production mold created from it. He slip casts large-scale porcelain objects from this final mold. Some are closed and remniscient of standing stones or monuments; and with others the tops are open and explicitly referencing pottery, a vase, and ceramic history.

Of the mad dash to rapidly craft form from the quickly hardening plaster, Tom notes "This act is akin to dancing with a partner that is constantly changing."

Tom Spleth on Cups

"On this ridge in the mountains where my home is, the wind is a beast that visits daily, but on this spring morning the air is warm and absolutely still, the sky flawless and pale blue, nearly white. The thousands of trees that I can see just beyond the greening lawn carry that magenta haze of new buds. Not a single leaf can be seen, but winter is only a memory today and the sun is hot. Above, at thirty thousand feet, a whispering jet lays down a fading contrail and then another crosses it. Here, the wasps have awakened and now single-mindedly seek the right location for the propagation of their species. I am reminded of my porcelain and why people like to pick it up. Its clear thin white body, filled with light, carries the same message I am receiving from the sky and the warmth of this day. There is an overwhelming feeling that a gift has been given."

"I am drinking coffee from an earthenware cup made by a friend. The coffee is bitter and harsh, left over from yesterday and burned in the microwave this morning. The low-fat milk that whitens it is no substitute for creamy half-and-half, but the refrigerator is understocked. The coffee reminds me of my adulthood, my gray hair, my eventual demise, the relief I am feeling from my sorry addiction to caffeine. I welcome these thoughts because I am set apart thereby from the illusion that nature is benign. She would be just as happy if this setting were a blasted crater on the dark side of the moon."

"Most of my recent pottery is porcelain cups filled with the gift of light and precision. On their sides, in tiny script, I place verbal messages, little reminders that make the cups complete...[examples of profanity edited out]. Only these exact words can carry their tiny sweet messages of heartbreak and awareness. No image or abstract mark can make such a declaration. Words float in our brains like DNA floats in our cells, and when a customer picks up one of my cups and reads, he or she is captured by the inescapable recognition that a fellow traveler has been here. This is the humanity of profanity. The words on the cups elicit a bit of uncontrolled laughter, a sigh of relief, and confirmation that we shall abide."





Tom Spleth Artist Resume

Education:
State University of New York College of Ceramics at Alfred University, Alfred, New York, MFA 1971
Kansas City Art Institute, Kansas City, Missouri, BFA 1969
Selected Exhibitions:
EFA Gallery, New York, New York, 2006
Blue Spiral Gallery, Asheville, North Carolina 2006
Meredith College, Raleigh, North Carolina, 2005
East Carolina University, Greenville, North Carolina, Exhibition on the Occasion of the Penland School's 75th Anniversary, 2004
Upstairs Gallery, Tryon, North Carolina, Recent Work, 2004
Blue Spiral Gallery, Asheville, North Carolina, Functional Ceramics Invitational 2003
Asheville Art Museum, Asheville, North Carolina, Works on Paper, 2003
John Michael Kohler Arts Center, Sheboygan, Wisconsin, Arts/Industry Retrospective, 2003
Parkland College, Champaign, Illinois, Recent Work, 2003 McColl Center for Contemporary Art, Charlotte, North Carolina, What's New, 2002
Louisiana Tech University, Ruston, Louisiana, Recent Work, 2001
East Carolina University, Greenville, North Carolina, Three Painters, 2000
Hickory Museum of Art, Hickory, North Carolina, Carolina Contemporary, 2000
Bernhardt Furniture Company, Lenore, North Carolina, Highpoint Showroom Exhibition, 2000, 2001
South Eastern Center for Contemporary Art, Winston-Salem, North Carolina, Recent Work, 1997
Gerald Melberg Gallery, Charlotte, North Carolina, New Talent in Charlotte II, 1993 North
Carolina State University Visual Arts Center, North Carolina Clay, Raleigh, North Carolina, 1992
Penland Gallery, Penland, North Carolina, New Work, 1998
Blue Spiral Gallery, Asheville, North Carolina, Abstract Thinking, 1999
Blue Spiral Gallery, Asheville, North Carolina, Harvest Show, 1997
Cameron Museum, Wilmington, North Carolina, Sculpture and Computer Drawings, 1997
Joanne Rapp Gallery, Scottsdale, Arizona, 1996
State University of New York College of Ceramics at Alfred University, International Museum of Art, Alfred, New York, Faculty Retrospective, 1996
North Carolina State University Visual Arts Center, Raleigh, North Carolina, For God's Eyes, Exhibition of a Collaboration with Israeli Painter Moshe Gershuni, 1996
Blue Spiral Gallery, Asheville, North Carolina, New Works, New Artists, New Year, 1994
Greenhill Center for North Carolina Art, Greensboro, North Carolina, New Work, 1993
Raleigh Contemporary Gallery, Raleigh, North Carolina, New Work, 1991, 1992
Waterworks Gallery, Salisbury, North Carolina, Brickworks Project Exhibition, 1989
North Carolina Museum of Art, Raleigh, North Carolina, Big Clay, 1988
Creative Arts Workshop, New Haven, Connecticut, The Form of Function, 1988
Artspace Gallery, Raleigh, North Carolina, Environmental Tile Installation, 1987
Greenhill Center for North Carolina Art, Greensboro, North Carolina, Drawing Redefined, 1987
John Michael Kohler Arts Center, Sheboygan, Wisconsin, Clay, Everyday plus Sunday, 1985
State University of New York College of Ceramics at Alfred University, Fosdick/Nelson Gallery, Recent Work, 1984
Greenwich House Gallery, New York, New York, New Work, 1983
Synopsis Gallery, Winnetka, Illinois, Contemporary Porcelain Show, 1982
American Hand Gallery, Washington, DC, New Work, 1982
American Hand Gallery, Washington, DC, The Bowl Show, 1982
American Craft Museum, New York, New York, For the Table Top, 1981
Museum of the Rhode Island School of Design, Providence, Rhode Island, Clay, 1981
Renwick Gallery, National Museum of Art, Smithsonian Institute, Washington, DC, American Porcelain, 1981
Elements Gallery, New York, New York, New Work, 1981
Moore College of Art, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Robert L. Pfannebecker Collection, 1980
Center for the Visual Arts, Illinois State University, Normal Illinois, Eighth Biennial Crafts Invitational, 1980
Museum of the City of Philadelphia, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Contemporary Ceramics: A Response to the Josiah Wedgwood Commemoration, 1980
Helen Drutt Gallery, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, American Ceramics, 1980
State University of New York, Burchfield Center, Buffalo, New York, Language of Clay: Ten New York Artists, 1979
Weber State College, Logan, Utah, Ceramics Invitational, 1978
Following Sea Gallery, Honolulu, Hawaii, Five Craftsmen, 1978
Scripts College, Claremont California, Scripts Invitational, 1971