Q & A with Kimberlee Roth – What We Have to Lose

Could you briefly explain your process for us?

The end goal is to have work with curvilinear edges and interiors having singular, or multiple, distinct concave sections. The outside edge of the work is drawn onto paper and then transferred to either Styrofoam or clay. The interior and sides are then carved. If the piece is clay, it is fired to cone 022. I then make a plaster multipart mold and use that to make the final slip cast porcelain forms.

How do the ideas and creation process start and how do you know when you’re done?

I look at a lot of artwork, keep up with current events and try to learn from what I think are successful art forms as to how their political and environmental issues are represented, distilled and communicated successfully. As an artist I’m never done; each previous installation supports the next and sparks more ideas.

What originally inspired you to bridge the gap between utilitarian ware and wall sculpture?

It evolved over a number of years. I initially wanted to move away from round forms made on the potter’s wheel and started slip casting. Slip casting naturally led to making a large number of the same form, and then it again came naturally to place the work into repetitive patterns. The negative spaces created between the pieces are quite lovely, so I experimented and played with making forms whose negative and positive spaces looked balanced and made an interesting composition.

Kimberlee Roth Studio 

Who are some of your major artistic influences?

Eva Zeisel and Richard Notkin

I noticed that you include some glaze recipes on your website. What tips might you have for people looking to experiment with creating their own original glaze recipes but aren’t quite sure where to start?

Go to the library and look at glaze books or look on-line for a glaze you like, and then make a 500 gram batch. Glaze a small cup and bowl with it. Test it in both oxidation and reduction. Then, take out the oxide colorant and see what the base glaze is like. If the base glaze seems promising, that is you like the way it feels or looks, then test the base with a variety of different oxides and percentages of oxides. An example would be to make a 200 gram batch and add 1% of an oxide, dip in a test tile, label it, then add another 1% for a 2% test, then another 2% for a 4% test, and then another 4% for an 8% test and see what the glaze looks like on these 4 test tiles. I’ve made hundreds of glaze tests, but the best glazes I have are from trying new oxide blends in tried and true base glazes.


What is your favorite part of the ceramic process?

Designing the forms and laying out the finished work into a pattern.

Could you tell us a bit about your educational experiences? What led you to originally pursue a science degree and then later pursue an art degree?

Everyone has choices to make throughout their life; each choice leads to a different path. I made a choice during high school to pursue a Math and Physics degree because it came easy to me and it was safe. I knew I would be able to get a teaching job after college and be secure and self-reliant as a single woman in the 1990s. But teaching high school became redundant and I needed to challenge myself. At first I was planning to get my PhD in Physics, but a few key choices and a hard look at what made me content and happy led me back to school for art. I always had the peace of mind that if things did not work out I had my Physics and Math degree to fall back on. I know I made the right choice because of how happy and challenged I am when I am in my studio.

Kimberlee Roth Studio

How does your math and science background come into play with your artwork?

My science and math training taught me perseverance to solve problems. I am used to getting things wrong the first few times and working through ideas to find a reasonable solution. I think to myself – we humans have created a variety of complex and amazing inventions, I can figure out how to solve this or that problem within my ceramics – it’s not as if I’m making a rocket to go to the moon or an integrated circuit from square one. Along with this tenacious attitude, my science background has taught me confidence and experimental skills, both of which I use while pushing the boundaries of the ceramics medium to its physical limitations and in glaze calculation. I consider my ceramics studio a chemistry and engineering lab.

Kimberlee Roth Studio

What else can you tell us about your exhibition What We Have To Lose that we might not get from your artist statement or simply by viewing the work?

It’s harder to make small turtles and snails then it is to make the larger tiles and top pieces. 🙂


What tips do you have for artists trying to minimize their environmental impact while still being able to effectively create work and get a message across?

Try not to use plastic, synthetic fabric or other materials refined from crude oil. Then use whatever is the best material to get your ideas across.

Kimberlee Roth Studio 

What is next for you?

I am developing new forms and glaze colors, and working simultaneously with another slip body. I also have ideas for other tile forms with incised imagery. I work best if I follow ideas down varying and multiple paths, keep experimenting and allow every kiln to be a sort of test.

Kimberlee Roth Studio

Questions by Gallery Assistant Katie Smith


What We Have to Lose – Exhibition Essay by Robert Silberman

Kimberlee Roth Ceramic TilesWhat We Have to Lose by Kimberlee Roth

Exhibition Essay by Robert Silberman

Robert Silberman is Associate Professor of Art History at the University of Minnesota, where he teaches courses on the history of cinema and other subjects. He received his Ph.D. in English Literature from Columbia University. He was senior advisor for the 1999 PBS series American Photography: A Century of Images and, with Vicki Goldberg, co-author of the companion volume. A regular contributor to the Burlington Magazine, he has curated exhibitions on art, photography, and ceramics, including six exhibitions at Northern Clay Center in Minneapolis, most recently Out of the Labyrinth: Contemporary Mexican Ceramics. The many ceramic artists he has written about include Warren MacKenzie, Gail Kendall, Ken Price, Amy Sabrina, and Randy Johnston.


Kimberlee Joy Roth – Artist Statement & Bio

Kimberlee Roth Ceramic Tiles


Artist Statement

A marriage of embellishment and utilitarian object is the inspiration behind my oeuvre: that is to create utilitarian non-traditionally shaped ceramic serving platters that maintain a curvilinear edge throughout the form and which reference historical decorative motifs. Today’s contemporary ceramics include figurative forms and abstract sculpture, utilitarian ware and architectural and decorative tile. My work is wall sculpture that is still functional; it can be used to also contain and serve food. Continue reading “Kimberlee Joy Roth – Artist Statement & Bio”

WHAT WE HAVE TO LOSE by Kimberlee Joy Roth


Kimberlee Joy Roth

August 29 – October 27, 2016
Reception: September 16, 6-8 p.m.

Christensen Center Art Gallery

Artist Statement & Bio

In What We Have to Lose, Roth’s tessellated wall installation romanticizes the flora and very small fauna found in meticulously manicured gardens. Concerned with water availability and quality, pesticide use and the earth’s ecosystem, this large installation is Roth’s second solo exhibition to address awareness to the importance of unpolluted water.

Kimberlee Joy Roth is a fiscal year 2016 recipient of an Artist Initiative grant from the Minnesota State Arts Board. This activity is made possible by the voters of Minnesota through a grant from the Minnesota State Arts Board, thanks to a legislative appropriation from the arts and cultural heritage fund.











Q & A with artist Jeanine Hill

What is the main focus of inspiration for the pieces included in this exhibition?

I have spent the last two years working on the pieces for this show. In this time I have traveled quite a bit, and the extensive traveling has been an inspiration. But I would have to say that the greatest influence or inspiration for the work is the experience of landscape, the role it plays in our lives, and the way in which place enables us to not only understand who and where we are but also to navigate our world in a more grounded way.

How would you describe your creative process?                                                

I usually work in shifts. Because my studio practice involves a wide variety of materials, I rarely work with multiple materials at the same time. Working this way allows me to deeply focus on the material at hand and the processes required. A year of my artistic life will often involve six to eight months of working in clay, three months of drawing, and perhaps a month or two working with textiles. That being said, there could be a year that doesn’t look like this at all and I spend the whole year throwing pots or drawing. It all depends on where I am emotionally and physically at the time.

Where did your initial attraction to examining your path in life as a visual record stem from?

I come from a long line of storytellers and within this history there are diverse ethnic backgrounds that come into play. Storytelling and the making of artwork have played a tremendous role in my family’s history. I think that coming from such a diverse background as I do, as well as all of the moving and traveling I have done in my life, have required me to be constantly reflective. The consistent examination of who I am as a human being allows who I am to remain in a state of constant flux, which I suppose in some ways allows the change to not be so difficult.

What message do you want to get across to viewers through your art?

I don’t know that there is a specific message I am hoping to get across. I simply hope that in the telling of my story, it enables the viewers to see their own story within the work as well, that perhaps my work is simply a window or door into their own lives.

Jeanine Hill Artwork

What are some of your artistic influences?

I am drawn to well-crafted, process oriented work that shows the presence of the hand in the work. So within this realm I would say that one of my biggest influences is Lee Bontecou. As an artist she possesses a strong integrity to craft and content, and it shows in the work. I am also deeply influenced by the work of Georgia O’Keefe. I find it refreshing to look at works of art that speak of beauty. Lastly, I would have to say I am heavily inspired by Karen Karnes. Her later, more sculptural works possess a strong sense of the unknown, while still trying to name the mystery of existence through the use of the hands.

You describe your work as “relics of visually constructed memory.” What influence does this kind of recordkeeping have in your day-to-day life?

I believe strongly in the recording of life so I carry a pen and journal wherever I go. There is something deeply personal about writing down notes that document your life, not so much so that you can go back and read it but to simply become acquainted with pausing throughout your day to witness and reflect. By witnessing and reflecting on my life through the written work and other materials such as clay, I am able to put it outside of myself and move on.

Jeanine Hill Artwork

Would you say you are striving to create a visual diary?

No, not a diary, a visual landscape yes. A few years back I read this amazing book called the “Anatomy of the Spirit.” In the book the author talks a lot about how our bodies become a biological landscape of both our physical and emotional lives and that everything we go through both physically and emotionally affects our physiology. In essence we become a walking landscape. When I think of the work I am making, I suppose I think of it in a similar way. It is a visual landscape of my work, and one piece could be based on one particular moment or nine years of my life.

What are some of the reactions you have received from people viewing your work?

I have heard from quite a few people that they see my work as being fairly poetic and quiet. 

Jeanine Hill Artwork

What is one thing you have learned about yourself as an artist in creating these works?

I have learned that it is helpful if I have time and space to slowly create the work, one piece after another. If I am able to sit with all of the work for a prolonged period, slowly, I am able to see how the pieces should fit together, who are the characters, and what the story is that needs to be told.

What kind of experiences do you draw from for inspiration?

I draw from all of my experiences, both the good and the bad. All of it is meaty and offers substance that can be used as inspiration.

Jeanine Hill Artwork

How long did it take you to develop your own style?

I am still creating it.

Most of your ceramic pieces are rounded, organic and flowing shapes. Is there a specific meaning behind this?

I suppose when I think of the human body and the movement of landscapes, I think of soft, organic shapes.

Jeanine Hill Artwork

Does your work on one project often lead to the inspiration of your next endeavor?

I do my best to not take too much down time in between projects, so the short answer is yes. But I would also like to believe that because it is my hand that is making the work, there will always be a consistent line of thought between the vast expanses.

What’s next? 

Keep making, making, making. It is all in the work.

Jeanine Hill Exhibition

Questions by gallery intern Johanna Goggins.


Jeanine Hill ArtworkJeanine Hill presents various works including drawings, ceramics, and an installation. These works are inspired by the transformations of line into form, land into sky, and stars and planets into universes. This collection depicts a state of constant becoming.

Exhibition Dates: January 12 – March 26, 2015

Artist Statement: The works that I am currently making are three-dimensional maps of the literal and metaphoric terrains that I have traveled.  Within my work, form stands with purpose and content lies within the context of my life experiences.  It is through the examination of personal history and the construction and reconstruction of this history’s landscape that I am able to decipher my own mysteries through the morphology of clay.

Artist Bio: Jeanine Hill was born in Alcalde, New Mexico on a Pueblo reservation where she and her family were surrounded by vast orchards and high canyon walls. Her first exposure to the arts was early on when her father began taking photographs of the traditional Pueblo ceremonies by day and working with wood by night. She was taught the value of storytelling by her mother, who used words to shape the world. Jeanine’s own making and storytelling practices were forged out of hours of being lost in the woods of Vermont, and sharing stories with her siblings.

Gage Family Art Gallery