ASU Art Museum Ceramics Research Center Presents the Work of Legendary Ceramist Howard Kottler

Howard Kottler, Big Brother, 1980. Commercial white porcelain plate with altered commercial decal and metallic (luster) glaze, 10 1/4 inches diameter. Collection of Patti Warashina.
Photo credit: Eduardo Calderón

Photo courtesy of Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts

Tempe, Ariz – The ASU Art Museum Ceramics Research Center presents Look Alikes: The Decal Plates of Howard Kottler, a nationally traveling exhibition of significant works by prominent American ceramist Howard Kottler, from April 15 to Aug. 27. Look Alikes, which consists of 60 porcelain plates created by Kottler between the 1960s and 1980, presents a survey of Kottler’s work known to challenge conventional notions of gender, politics, religion and art. Kottler’s series of plates has never been analyzed as a whole until now.

Kottler (1930 – 1989), a former University of Washington professor, is known for rejecting traditional studio ceramic practices that emphasized and valued hand-made objects. Contrary to the studio potters who wedged clay and calculated glazes for plate-making, Kottler created his works with mass-produced store-bought plates and commercial decals.

The decals Kottler chose for his plates included reproductions of well-known images such as Leonardo DaVinci’sThe Last Supper and Grant Wood’s American Gothic. Kottler altered these images, often with political intent, by cutting and combining the decals and then affixing them to inexpensive white porcelain plates that he purchased in bulk.

For example, as a protest to the Vietnam War, Kottler cut and rearranged the American flag in Made in the U.S.A.In another instance, Kottler changed the male and female couple in Grant Wood’s 1930 painting American Gothicinto identical males.

"Howard Kottler’s work is not only visually engaging, but it is truly thought-provoking as well," says Peter Held, Curator of the Ceramics Research Center. "The use of the ceramic medium to convey non-conformist messages, makes Kottler one of the first postmodernist artist in the field of ceramics."

Look Alikes is organized by the Tacoma Art Museum and sponsored by the Howard Kottler Testamentary Trust and includes a fully illustrated catalogue distributed nationally by University of Washington Press.

On May 6, there will be gallery tours with Vicki Halper, independent curator of Look Alikes from 1-3 p.m., and a slide lecture from 5:30-6:30 p.m.  Following will be a public reception from 6:30-8:30 p.m.

The ASU Art Museum is a division of The Katherine K. Herberger College of Fine Arts. The museum’s Ceramics Research Center is located on the northeast corner of Mill Avenue and 10th Street, Tempe. Hours are 10 a.m. - 9 p.m. on Tuesdays (during the academic year), and 10 a.m. - 5 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday. For more information, members of the public should call the ASU Art Museum at (480) 965-2787.

The ASU Art Museum, named "the single most impressive venue for contemporary art in Arizona" by Art in America, is part of the Herberger College of Fine Arts at Arizona State University. The museum is located on the southeast corner of Mill Avenue and 10th Street in Tempe and entry is free. Hours are 10 a.m. - 5 p.m., Tuesday through Saturday and until 9 p.m. Tuesdays during the academic year. For more information, call (480) 965-2787 or visit the museum online at

Media Contact:
Mica Matsoff
(480) 965-0478