Ceramic Sculptor Kathy Butterly to Travel to Israel as Part of AIDA Program

PALM BEACH, FL - March 21, 2016 - The Association of Israel’s Decorative Arts (AIDA) announced today that the award-winning New York – based sculptor Kathy Butterly has been selected to represent the United States in the prestigious annual ceramics symposium held at the Tel-Hai Art Institute in Israel’s Upper Galilee. The symposium, which will be held December 28 – 30, is the largest event in Israel devoted entirely to contemporary ceramics and usually attracts at least 250 participants. This year’s symposium is organized by The Ceramics Artists Association of Israel under the leadership of its director Esti Drori in conjunction with the institute’s Ceramics Department.  As part of her ten-day trip to Israel, Butterly will not only participate in this year’s symposium, she will also tour the country to gain firsthand knowledge of its cultures, peoples, and history. In Jerusalem, Butterly will visit the Old City as well as lecture and meet with the ceramics and glass faculty and students of Israel’s leading art school, Bezalel Academy of Arts and Design. In addition, she is scheduled to spend time in Tel Aviv visiting museums, galleries, and artist studios; the focus of her stay there will, however, be a master class for ceramists at the five-year-old Benyamini Contemporary Ceramics Center, already an epicenter for ceramic study in south Tel Aviv.

Butterly’s visit is part of a multiyear effort by AIDA—begun in 2010— to establish a dialogue between the Israeli and American clay communities. Among those figures from the United States whom AIDA already has brought to Israel to participate in the annual Tel-Hai retreat and do presentations at Bezalel and the Benyamini Center are such innovators as Brian Ransom  (2010), Tip Toland (2011), Akio Takamori (2012), Tony Marsh (2013), Sergei Isupov (2014), and Bennett Bean (2015). Aviva Ben-Sira, AIDA’s director in Israel, recently noted, “The visits of these American artists have opened up new kinds of conversations amongst Israeli artists working in ceramics today. Steeped since ancient times in the traditions of pottery, Israeli ceramists now for the first time are asking where does pottery end and art begin. Many more Israelis are now making sculptural statements that are conceptual in nature. And, interestingly, the Americans are beginning to convince Israelis of the potential of adding color to their palette.”  Butterly’s oeuvre promises to augment this dialogue: known for her beautifully glazed, colorful, cartoonish forms that reference the human body, she often starts her tabletop sculptures by casting forms from mundane kitchen objects. She then affixes to them caricatures of human extremities that underscore their incongruous nature.

Butterly was awarded the Smithsonian American Art Museum’s 10th Contemporary Artist Award in 2012 and a year later the Moore College [Philadelphia] of Art and Design’s Visionary Woman Award. She will be joined at this year’s Tel-Hai symposium—as in previous years—by two master ceramists from the United Kingdom. In addition to lecturing about their respective work, each artist will present a live demonstration in the college’s auditorium; all will be given studio space where they will be encouraged to work while meeting and talking one on one with the Israeli participants. As Yael Novak, long-time coordinator and consultant for the Tel-Hai symposiums, has noted, “These symposiums… help in establishing Israeli ceramic art as part of the international clay community and contribute to its professional dialogue with the world.”

Bringing American artists to the Tel-Hai symposiums is one of a number of programs involving craft media that AIDA has instituted since its establishment in 2003 by the late Andrea and Charles Bronfman and Dale and Doug Anderson. Begun as a response to the declining craft market during the Second Intifada, AIDA seeks to integrate Israeli artists within the international crafts community. The organization now promotes Israeli participation in US museum, craft, and gallery exhibitions; provides scholarships that enable Israeli craftsmen to avail themselves of American crafts programs; and brings American curators to Israeli makers’ studios.

In addition to the Tel-Hai symposiums, AIDA has specifically helped foster Israeli ceramics by instituting a program during the first decade of the millennium that provided scholarships for several Israelis to work at Maine’s Watershed Center for Ceramic Arts.  After sending noted ceramic sculptors Matt Nolen and Michael Sherrill to Israel in 2008 and 2009 respectively, AIDA decided to expand upon this experience and reach more Israeli makers.  In 2010, it established, in conjunction with Watershed, a biennial residency program, AIDAshed, in which three ceramists from North America join ten established Israeli ceramists and five emerging ones at the Givat Haviva Institute’s Art Center located an hour north of Tel Aviv. There, under the direction of Israeli ceramist Avner Singer, AIDAshed gives these ceramists from North America and Israel the opportunity to focus on their own work, share experiences and techniques, and, at the same time, serve as good will ambassadors for their respective countries. Past participants from the United States and Canada include: in 2010, Christa Assad, Sana Musasama, Dirk Staschke; in 2012, Molly Hatch, Nan Smith, Linda Sormin; and most recently, Elizabeth Kendall, Sequoia Miller, Denise Pelletier. 


AIDA’s mission is to foster the development of contemporary decorative artists from Israel by connecting them to an international audience of galleries, institutions and collectors. Since the organization’s founding in 2003, AIDA has helped careers of a generation of artists from Israel. Underlying all of AIDA’s activities is the goal of promoting a positive face of contemporary Israel not often seen.

For further information, contact: Doug Anderson, , or
visit the website of the Association of Israel’s Decorative Arts .