Couples in Craft
Couples in Craft highlights artist couples that specifically work in fiber and ceramics, either collaboratively or independently. While very different in their physical qualities—malleable and rigid, vegetable and mineral—both media require methodical construction processes that can take years to master.
Many of these artist couples met during their formative educational years and thus share a lifelong dedication to each other and to their respective craft. These partners support and inspire each others’ extensive pursuit of mastering materials and continued exploration of their potential. Their intuitive knowledge of process allows for layers of meaning to become integrated into the works as they are made.
These artists, as couples and as a group, share a passion and curiosity for the craft they have devoted themselves to. Many have also worked as educators, nurturing an interest in the ancient traditions of weaving and ceramics with future generations.
Participating artists: Jim and Veralee Bassler, Susan Garson and Tom Pakele, Nobuhito Nishigawara and Lesley Kice Nishigawara, Yael Lurie and Jean Pierre Larochette, Susan and David Wulfeck.
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About the artists
Veralee Bassler graduated from the UCLA Art Department with a concentration in ceramics. She shared her passion for creativity, teaching, and ceramics with the students of the Los Angeles School District for 25 years. Jim Bassler graduated from UCLA with an MA in Art in 1968 and later served there as professor and department chair between 1975–2000. Jim, recipient of the American Craft Council 2022 Gold Medal, is a renown weaver whose work adapts ancient Peruvian techniques and explores a range of materials and concepts. Veralee and Jim live and work in Palm Springs.
Susan Garson creates hand-built ceramic vessels with highly illustrated surfaces, using colorful, lyrical imagery that evokes a sense of ritual and mystery. She earned her MFA at UCLA and met her future husband Tom Pakele during her studies in the 1980s. Tom Pakele attended CSU Northridge and also earned his MFA at UCLA. His interest is in the finer points of porcelain processes, working the surfaces with carving and traditional Asian glazes such as copper red, celadon, and iron saturates. The imagery in his forms reflects the aesthetic of his Hawaiian heritage. Susan and Tom live and work in Boulder, CO.
Yael Lurie apprenticed with her father and studied with Jacob Wexler and at the Leshem Mosaic Workshop. Jean Pierre Larochette is the son of a third generation French Aubusson tapestry weaver. He was co-founder and director of the San Francisco Tapestry Workshop and teacher at the San Francisco State University textile program in the 1970s and 80s. Yael and Jean Pierre have collaborated for five decades, including numerous commissions for temples and also have works in public and private collections throughout the U.S. and Mexico. The denseness of pattern and color in their lush work immerse the viewer in the artists’ interpretation of the natural world. Yael and Jean Pierre are based in Berkeley, CA.
Lesley Kice Nishigawara‘s work stems from a fascination with grids, patterns, and structures that are inherent in the medium of weaving, but also from observations of the built environment. She attended the Kansas City Art Institute in the early 2000s, where she and husband Nobuhito Nishigawara first met. She received an MFA from CSU Long Beach in 2016 and maintains a studio in Santa Ana, CA. Nobuhito Nishigawara received a BFA in ceramics from the Kansas City Art Institute and an MFA from Arizona State University. He is a Professor of Ceramics in the department of Visual Arts at CSU Fullerton. Having lived in Japan and the U.S., his work addresses the relationship of perception, ritual, and interpretation to cultural identity
Susan Wulfeck creates hand-built forms that investigate the interaction between intricate, repetitive surface designs and bold geometric contours. Susan received a BFA from University of Illinois, Champaign-Urbana and an MFA from UCLA. David Wulfeck received a BA from CSU Northridge, and an MA from UCLA where the two met in the early 80s. David’s sleekly elegant wheel-thrown ceramic forms have rich surfaces imbued with New York school-inspired gestural marks, creating a dynamic contrast. Susan and David live and work in Atascadero, CA. They have been married and shared studio space for over 35 years.