A person in all black looks towards the camera while standing behind their latest artwork.
The artist in her studio. Credit: Hostler Burrows Gallery

Ceramics In Conversation: Maren Kloppmann and Jennifer Komar Olivarez

Jennifer Komar Olivarez converses with Minnesota-based artist Maren Kloppmann about her work, in the context of modern and contemporary ceramic sculpture featured in the Cargill Gallery exhibition “The Root Collection: Celebrating Studio Ceramics.”

Maren Kloppmann
Maren Kloppmann is renown for her architectonic porcelain wall sculptures. Both her large and small-scale installations are studies in the reconciliation of the divergent qualities of biomorphic and architectural structures by creating a visual dialog between their respective aesthetic aspects.

Taking stimulus from modernist architecture and concepts of minimalism, Kloppmann describes her process and style as “a visual confluence of serendipity and precision, where intuition and intention intersect.” The resolve to shift perception of a given space inspires her attentiveness to the three-dimensional qualities each installation occupies.

Maren Kloppmann, German (active United States), born 1962, Wall pillows with cut outs, 2010, porcelain, Lent by Tamara and Michael Root, L2023.30.279

Her wall-mounted presentations include manipulations of light and the presence of shadow. This is ultimately how Kloppmann’s Shadow Wall Pillow series was conceived. The resulting wall sculptures are composed assemblages in modular repetition. Her artworks, organic and architectonic at once, are serene studies of line, shape and negative space that blur the boundaries between craft, design and fine art.

Kloppmann ventured into abstract ceramic wall sculpture in 2013, after a 17-year career in functional ceramics. Her objective to experiment with volume and proportion developed from utilitarianism into the artistic reconstitution of sculptural space, which she achieves with consideration of form, depth and color. With a distinct glaze palette she creates nuanced contrasts and soft tensions to enhance line and contour. Employing techniques of slab building, she meticulously constructs each wall element to imbue it with subtleties, while thriving for precision.

Born in Germany in 1962, Kloppmann received her Journeyman degree in 1984 from the Bavarian Keramik Handwerkskammer and came to the United States the same year to further her studies in ceramics. After artist-in-residencies in North Carolina and Michigan, she subsequently received her BFA at the Kansas City Art Institute in 1993, and her MFA at the University of Minnesota in 1996.

Maren Kloppmann currently lives and works in Minneapolis, Minnesota, where she has maintained a full-time studio practice since 1997. A three-time McKnight Fellowship recipient, her awards include a Jerome Fellowship and five Minnesota State Arts Board Grants. Her work is represented in numerous private and museum collections including, Crocker Museum of Art, Sacramento CA, Frederik R.Weisman Art Museum, Minneapolis MN, Herberger Museum of Art & Design, Tempe AZ, Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, Kansas City MO and The Minneapolis Institute of Art.

Jennifer Komar Olivarez

Jennifer attended Saint Louis University, the University of Minnesota, and the University of Glasgow. Jennifer served as a curator in the Decorative Arts department at Mia for 25 years, specializing in architecture, craft, and design. As Head of Exhibition Planning and Strategy since February 2016, she leads the museum in engaging the public with innovative exhibitions generated and developed by cross-functional teams.

The artist in her studio. Credit: Hostler Burrows Gallery