Harry Kuttner: Block Museum - Northwestern University
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Harry Kuttner

Crew Profile: Harry Kuttner

Year you began at The Block: 2020

Can you tell us a bit about your background? What should we know about you?

 I began working as a preparator in 2015, about a year after finishing my undergrad studies. In the 5 years since, I have worked for a number of institutions, galleries, and private companies. Professionally, I have moved back and forth between preparatory work and work related to environmental conservation and urban greening. I find both areas of work to be fulfilling in their own ways. I am most satisfied with my work when I am helping to build community spaces, be they community gardens or public art institutions.

Memorable experience preparing an exhibition at the Block?

During my first install at the Block, we unpacked a 7-foot tall ceramic sculpture from Iran or Turkey. It was the first time I had worked closely with a ceramic piece of that size. I was struck by the weight and presence of the work. As an artist working with clay it was an exciting experience.

How does work as a museum preparator inform or influence your artistic practice? Or not?

I appreciate the time I’ve spent working closely with works in a wide range of mediums. As a practicing artist it is always interesting to see how others have constructed their work or treated their materials. It is helpful for me to remember that most pieces show their imperfections when you are up close.

Where have you been finding inspiration at this time?

My recent work has been focused on large vessels that incorporate sculptural elements. In the time of COVID-19, where we all find ourselves isolated to some degree, I have found myself making plates, bowls, and cups. I am able to easily share this work with my community, and the process can be much less time consuming than a large sculpture. Creating work that people can one day eat off of gives me hope for the future. I am choosing to put my energy into those shared communal experiences, and the hope that we will soon be able to have them again.

What can you share with us about the work you created for this project?

My current practice is based in hand-built ceramic sculptures and installations. My recent sculptures incorporate references to roadside americana, popular song lyrics, and natural landscapes as a means to examine experiences of intimacy, sex, and loss. Many of the sculptures ​incorporate minimal glazing, leaving the natural clay body exposed, in order to recall a connection to the earth, stone, and antiquity. Keeping the cultural history of clay as a reference, the work falls somewhere between craft and art object, searching to strike a tension between delicacy and weight.

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Harry Kuttner