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October 2011

Francis Marion University in Florence, SC, Features Works by Mike and Patz Fowle

Francis Marion University in Florence, SC, will present the exhibit, Funk and Awesome!, featuring works by the husband and wife team, Mike and Patz Fowle, on view in the Hyman Fine Arts Center Gallery from Oct. 4 through Nov. 10, 2011. A reception will be held on Oct. 6, from 5-7pm.

Once you’ve seen their work, you will know why Mike and Patz Fowle have developed an international reputation. Patz appears in more than a dozen books on art as well as textbooks for her unique handbuilding technique. Mike has had work in the South Carolina State Museum and recently had a solo show at the Black Creek Arts Center in Hartsville, SC. Titled The Green Exhibit, it was made entirely from “repurposed” objects.

In a way, Funk and Awesome! is a “turning back the clock” exhibit for the Fowles. All works displayed in this show have been created jointly by the artists.

“After many requests from friends and patrons to purchase our sculptures in the $50 - $600 price range we found the challenge to be quite fun and exciting,” says Patz. “So, all summer long Mike and I have been involved in a flurry of activity in our studio creating really cool clay animal-like characters that ooze with attitude and style! The pieces begin with Mike throwing a clay pot on the pottery wheel. Next, I alter the forms into something totally unique and I delight in breathing a whimsical breath of life into each sculpture. The new works are awesome and they really make us laugh so we must be doing something right!”

“These are the types of pieces we did before moving to South Carolina,” said Mike. “Patz was an artist when I first met her. I was a farmer in Michigan. She taught me what I needed to know to help her make sculptures in clay so we could make a little spending money. We both went to school and began studies with Ceramics instructor Yosuka Haruta, in traditional wheel throwing, slab method, and glaze calculation in the summer of 1979.”

“We started selling our works and found that most of our buyers were in NY so we moved there. On Long Island we lived in a log cabin with a basement studio and started working. I would throw a pottery vase or form and Patz would alter the clay into a crazy animal sculpture. We were busy filling gallery orders and selling at art festivals and shows in the NYC area for ten years,” said Mike.

After revisiting their Michigan roots for a year, the couple found good markets in Charlotte, NC, which brought them to Hartsville, SC, in 1989. Patz continued with the ceramic sculptures but at a more relaxed atmosphere where she could spend time and get involved in her sculptures. The couple also began a new concentration on education, and both are artists-in-residence with the South Carolina Arts Commission.

“On and off through the years I was still helping Patz with her sculptures, but I began working on creating sculptures from recycled pieces of metal,” adds Mike. “This summer we experimented again on working together and something awesome happened, not only awesome but - Funk and Awesome.”

Mike adds, “Patz has this wonderful way of creating a whimiscal sculpture in almost any medium.”

“As an impassioned and curious student of life, I have always found the endless possibilities of clay to be the ideal medium in which to express my thoughts and ideas,” says Patz. “I enjoy the process of creating a humorous and sometimes bizarre world of ‘what if’...where an engaging scenario often invites the viewer to observe the world as if looking through the eyes of another creature.”

Patz adds, “I consider myself to be one of the luckiest people on the planet because I get to nurture the ‘child-within’ on a daily basis. By allowing my spirit to grow, I create a fertile environment for discovery. The simple act of holding a lump of clay is cause for celebration as I squeeze and poke until something magical happens in my hands…and in my soul.”

Patz is a ceramic sculptor whose work has a highly distinctive, witty style. In 1970, she pioneered a ground-breaking method for handbuilding in clay: the Patz Process Ceramic Technique. Patz’s sculptures and original techniques are recognized by the American Ceramic Society and in the permanent collection of the American Museum of Ceramic Art.

Along with exhibiting her award-winning works Patz also teaches her innovative techniques for working in clay nationally and internationally, inspiring creativity in the ceramic arts for many generations to come.

For further information check our SC Institutional Gallery listings, call the University at 843/661-1385 or visit (

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