“It is such intense proximities that magnetize, inspire, and buoy artist Jeffry Mitchell’s tragicomic universe, imbuing his current exhibition with an exuberant pathos that is emblematic of his larger practice as a sculptor and installation artist. From cut drawings, prints, and assemblage, to the centrality of ceramic sculpture within his work, Mitchell’s exhibition-making continues to explore a visual language wherein the big animals within his retinue—cartoonish elephants, bears, tigers, and eroticized men—exist alongside bunnies, roosters, and flora that teem together in both paradox and earnest dialog to explore the big themes of love, loss, shame, desire and vitality. Mitchell opens his landscape to scenes that leave the viewer prone to acknowledging erotic submission and self-questioning alike. The circling ascent and descent of levels and perforations adorning the newest ceramic vessels disorients as their restive motion strikes multiple emotive registers, by turns falling into delirium and rising into confrontation and embrace.
Dissolving well-behaved taxonomies and hierarchies in favor of connection and cross-pollination, Mitchell embraces his embellishment of symbolic motifs as a kind of folkloric lingua franca that readily transposes both fear and erotic energy to produce a canny beauty and ethos of shared becoming. Prodding his most recent bottle and vessel ceramic forms, for example, to epic density in their garlanded, bulbous, and brocaded patterns, Mitchell is in full control of a fervent yet masterful repetition as the bodily excesses of his newest assemblies are offset with a limited palette of soft yet wet grey, pink, and blue glazes that wrestle with the cacophony of forms. Motifs mingle in Mitchell’s choreography as cats become tigers, bears become men, and vice versa, with transformation and shape-shifting belying his readiness to mix symbolisms, to work from cultural largesse rather than paucity, not to escape but to encounter and confront. As with the visual echo of 17th century Korean minwha folk paintings of tigers present in Mitchell’s newest cut paper drawings, it’s the expressive presence of their faces that Mitchell covets and relates into his style. No longer distanced and regal atop the mountain, the tiger is allowed a gamut of expressions and Mitchell takes full advantage, having the tiger exist between the Christian agape of mouth-open wonder and a more bemused bafflement informed by songs of experience.” An excerpt from an essay by Fionn Meade, Independent Curator
Mitchell lives and works in Seattle, WA and has been an Artist in Residence at the Archie Bray Foundation, the Vermont Studio Center, the MacDowell Colony, Zentrum für Keramik, a guest lecturer and critic at Harvard University, and a recipient of the Joan Mitchell Foundation Painters and Sculptors Award, the Neddy Artist Fellowship Award, and the Contemporary Northwest Art Award. His work has been the subject of a solo exhibition in the Workspace Gallery at the New Museum of Contemporary Art (New York, NY), a mid-career retrospective at the Henry Art Gallery at the University of Washington (Seattle, WA), and included in exhibitions at the Seattle Art Museum (Seattle, WA), the Fabric Workshop (Philadelphia, PA), Walker Art Center (Minneapolis, MN), Missoula Art Museum (Missoula, MT), PDX CONTEMPORARY ART (Portland, OR), James Harris Gallery (Seattle, WA), Morgan Lehman (New York, NY), Ambach & Rice (Los Angeles, CA), Rena Bransten (San Francisco, CA), Kittredge Gallery (Tacoma, WA), Frye Art Museum (Seattle, WA), Museum of Contemporary Art (Detroit, MI), Tacoma Art Museum (Tacoma, WA), Western Bridge (Seattle, WA), World Ceramic Center (Icheon City, South Korea), CoCA (Seattle, WA), and Bellevue Art Museum (Bellevue, WA), among others.
His work is featured in the collections of the Fogg Art Museum, Harvard University (Cambridge, MA), Microsoft (Redmond, WA), Museum of Fine Arts (Boston, MA), New York Public Library (New York, NY), Philadelphia Art Museum (Philadelphia, PA), Portland Art Museum (Portland, OR), Safeco Corporation (Seattle, WA), Tacoma Art Museum (Tacoma, WA), Contemporary Museum (Honolulu, HI), Museum of Fine Arts (Houston, TX), Crocker Art Museum (Sacramento, CA), Frances Young Tang Teaching Museum and Art Gallery (Saratoga Springs, NY), Seattle Art Museum (Seattle, WA), and Whatcom Museum (Bellingham, WA), as well as numerous private collections.
primarily works in ceramics, also works in paper, water based media on paper and wood.
references global ceramic traditions in form and technique, but with a very free hand.
can be characterized as playful while holding deeper truths, probing notions of masculinity and sexuality as well as tradition and artistic influence.
reoccurring motifs are flowers, bears, rabbits, Foo Dogs and elefants.
lives and works in Seattle, WA.
had a mid-career retrospective at the Henry Art Gallery at the University of Washington in 2012.
has been featured in both solo and group exhibitions at the New Museum of Contemporary Art, New York; the Seattle Art Museum; the Frye Art Museum, Seattle, WA; the Jewish Museum, New York, NY; the Museum of Contemporary Art, Detroit, MI; Zentrum für Keramik, Berlin, Germany; Ambach & Rice, Los Angeles; Rena Bransten Gallery, San Francisco, CA; Pulliam Deffenbaugh, Portland, OR; and White Columns, New York, NY.
has work in the collections of the Fogg Art Museum, Harvard University, Cambridge, MA; Microsoft Corporation, Redmond, WA; Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, MA; New York Public Library, New York, NY; Philadelphia Art Museum, Philadelphia, PA; Portland Art Museum, Portland, OR; Seattle Art Museum, Seattle, WA; Tacoma Art Museum, Tacoma, WA.
has received the Joan Mitchell Foundation Painters and Sculptors Award, a Contemporary Northwest Arts Award from the Portland Art Museum among numerous other awards and in 2018 was an Artist in Residence at the Vermont Studio Center in Johnson, VT.
received his MFA from Tyler School of Art at Temple University in Philadelphia in 1998.