Sculptor Patti Warashina was born in Spokane, Washington to a Japanese immigrant father and Japanese-American mother and is the youngest of three. She now resides in Seattle, Washington. Warashina earned her BFA and MFA from the University of Washington and studied with sculptors Robert Sperry, Harold Myers, Rudy Autio, Shoji and Shinsaku Hamada, and Ruth Pennington. She taught ceramics for over 30 years and was instrumental in positioning Seattle’s ceramic scene.
Known for her imaginative, humorous sculptures, Warashina works in both ceramics and bronze. Since the 1970s she has explored the human figure to address issues such as the human condition, feminism, warfare, car culture, and corporate greed. Her works tell stories, often bizarre, dream-like and fantastical with their surreal juxtapositions and exaggerated, stylized features. Her bronze works begin as hand-built clay sculptures before being cast in metal.
Inspired by artists such as Hieronymus Bosch, Arshile Gorky, and Louise Nevelson, Warashina draws most of her ideas from her own bodily experiences which serve as a “visual diary.” The body acts as a reminder, reflection, and observation of personal time and civilization. Though her figures emerge from autobiography, Warashina notes, “They aren’t me exactly, or any version of me… they represent
what I know and what I’m curious about.” Interested in the absurdity and foibles of human behavior, she positions her figures as the actors in her introspective narratives. Over time, her figures have mutated from realistic to simpler, reductive, exaggerated forms with details left only for facial features and extremities to tie the body back to reality. “The human figure has been an absorbing visual fascination in my work,” Warashina says. “I use the figure in voyeuristic situations in which irony, humor, absurdities portray human behavior as a relief from society’s pressure and frustrations on mankind. At times, I use the figure in complex arrangements so that it will be seethingly alive. I like the visual stimulation of portraying human energy…” Warashina hopes to speak to the universal quirks of all human nature.
Her many honors include two National Endowment for the Arts grants, fellowship in the American Craft Council, Lifetime Achievement Award/Woman of the Year from Seattle’s Artist Trust, and a distinguished alumnus award from the University of Washington. Numerous institutions hold her work in their permanent collections including the Los Angeles County Art Museum, American Craft Museum, Seattle and Tacoma Art Museum, and the Kyoto National Museum of Modern Art, among others.