South Carolina sculptor Kevin Kao often draws on ancient statuary in his figure-ish clay work.
Artist: Born and raised in Yorba Linda, CA, Kao has a BS in Biology from the University of California, San Diego, and a MFA in Studio Art, with a ceramics focus, from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville.
The sculptor, who now calls Greenville, SC, home, is also an assistant professor of art at Furman University, where he has a beautiful studio space.
In the beginning: In college, Kao started taking some general education courses in art that he found engaging. Though he graduated with a degree in biology, he ended up taking more studio art courses after graduation.
Kao initially started as a figurative painter, but changed his focus after taking a ceramics class.
Art & materials: Predominantly figurative ceramic sculpture that calls to mind ancient statuary, such as Tang Dynasty tomb figures and Ancient Egyptian block statues.
Using hard materials like clay and plaster, the artist is drawn to minimal uses of color, like the natural color of clay, such as terracotta. Surfaces can be smooth and matte-like or finished with reflective glazes.
What’s popular: Heads in the Caryatids and Hubris series ($500 to $1,500). The figurative heads are typically larger than human scale and have abstracted forms as hair.
Other favorites: Inscribed wheel-thrown mugs ($50 to $150).
Favorite tools: Basic metal rib, Mudtool’s smallest red rib and a rubber shaper tool.
- Ancient statuary.
- Different systems of idealism for the human form.
- Artists, including: Ken Price, Ruth Asawa, Zhang Xiaogang, Genesis Belanger, Robert Arneson and Akio Takamori.
Recent award: Third Place in Young Sculptors Competition at Miami University (OH), 2021.
Current project: A new series of large, colorful furniture-like objects that reference the body.
What’s next: Several gallery shows, including:
- “Home Bodies,” Thompson Gallery, Furman University, Greenville, SC. Aug. 7-Sept. 8.
- “Guise,” Moon Gallery, Berry College, Rome, GA. Oct. 23-Nov. 6.
- “Ceramics Invitational,” Blue Spiral 1, Asheville, NC. Nov. 3-Dec. 27.
- Instagram: @kevinrkao
- Website: kevinrkao.com