2013 Spotlight Award Winner: Klara Glosova
Klara Glosova makes ceramic sculptures that look like tube socks. She flattens clay with a rolling pin from her kitchen, cuts it into sock shapes and fires it in the kiln in the basement studio of her Beacon Hill home, then precisely paints the forms in colors that look straight off a soccer field. In shows at 4Culture, Vignettes and elsewhere, she has displayed them tossed about—sometimes along with the wadded-up underpants, crumpled jeans and dishtowels she’s also sculpted—where they appear to be so much discarded laundry.
Asked why she focuses her artistic lens on domestic detritus, Glosova, 43, laughs and says, “It would’ve been very clear if I hadn’t cleaned up before you arrived.” On cue, her two boys (11 and 15) thunder down the staircase of her home and into the entry room, which has been stripped of furniture in the service of being both a space to display art and to play basketball or soccer (usually at the same time). “These are the things that draw your attention—whether positive or negative,” she says with her endearing Czech accent. “Artists are supposed to make things we know about.” Glosova also knows about roller skates, plastic bottles, popsicles and the iPod Touch. She has exhibited clay facsimiles of all of the above, the popsicles dipped in actual chocolate and the iPod painted to resemble a “selfie.”
Sculpture is a recent departure for Glosova, who previously worked mostly in drawing and printmaking. Having grown up in the Czech Republic with parents who are both architects, she began in architecture school, but in 1990—just after the Velvet Revolution overthrew the communist government—dropped out and headed for NYC, where she attended the New York Studio School of Drawing, Painting and Sculpture. “In school I never ventured into sculpture,” Glosova says, “but now I’m totally hooked.” Introduced to the medium by fellow Seattle artist Rumi Koshino, she clarifies, “I’m not a clay artist—I’m more of a hack. I like it because it’s a medium in which I can create three-dimensional work fast.”
Making art on the fly became especially important to Glosova after she landed in Seattle in 1994, and a few years later, began rearing her boys. “When they were young, I couldn’t do any art that wouldn’t clean up quickly,” she says. Back then, she focused on drawing in sketchbooks—capturing vivid dreams, often in the early hours before the kids awakened. (She has returned to those sketchbooks for some of her newest ceramic creations: 3-D manifestations of images, fantasies and words that resonated, the last formed into thin, cursive swoops of clay.)
Her work is delightful without being whimsical—there’s something seething in those dishtowels, something off-putting about the underpants. “I think my work appears sweet at first, but with an edge of danger,” Glosova says. One of the menacing elements is the sculptures’ fragility (several have been broken by careless onlookers). But Glosova isn’t too bothered. “I could be careful,” she says, “but putting the work behind glass would negate the purpose of it. It should be part of everyday life.”
It’s that commitment to art in everyday life that led her to found NEPO House in 2009, “an experiment in integration of art into domestic environment,” aka her own home, into which she invites all comers for regular exhibits of work by local artists, showcased on the walls, floors and countertops of the living, dining, kitchen and entry rooms. (It’s also the inspiration behind the annual NEPO 5K Don’t Run public art event; see page 24 of Seattle magazine.) “Art isn’t just for special people, housed in places special people go,” Glosova says. “Art is part of the place we live.”
UP NEXT: After the NEPO 5K Don’t Run on September 7, Glosova plans to organize a new winter show, called NEPO 5cm Don’t Run, in which all the artwork will fit on her dining room table. Check nepohouse.org for details.