Remembering: Ken Shores
It is with great sadness that we announce the death of ceramic artist Ken Shores on July 30, 2014. Shores was known not only for his exceptional sculptural work in clay, but also his work as an educator, collector, and arts administrator. He was 85 years old.
Shores was born in Lebanon, Oregon, in 1928. He earned his MFA with honors in 1957 from the University of Oregon, which he attended on the GI Bill after serving in the Korean War.
Following his graduation, Shores played a significant role in the contemporary craft movement of the mid-20th century. He was present at the American Craft Council's first national gathering in 1957 at the Asilomar Conference Center in Pacific Grove, California. He went on to serve as acting director of the Oregon Ceramics Studio in Portland from 1960-64, then as director from 1964-1968. Under his leadership, the studio was renamed the Contemporary Crafts Gallery (today it is known as the Museum of Contemporary Craft) and its exhibition spaces were expanded, prompting national attention. From 1966-1970 he was the Northwest Craftsman Trustee on the board of the ACC. From 1968-1995, Shores taught at Oregon's Lewis & Clark College, where he was influential in the development of the art department.
Influenced by a trip to Peru in 1968, Shores spent the late 1960s creating one of his most widely recognized bodies of work, Feather Fetishes. Composed of meticulously fired clay and delicately placed feathers, Feather Fetishes was written about extensively in Craft Horizons magazine and shown as part of the New York Museum of Contemporary Crafts' traveling exhibition "Objects: USA" throughout the late 1960s to early '70s.
Following his retirement from teaching, Shores continued to collect, travel, and exhibit his own work. In 2008, the Museum of Contemporary Craft honored the artist and his role in the institution’s history with his first retrospective exhibition, "Generations: Ken Shores." The exhibition was accompanied by the publication Ken Shores: Clay Has the Last Word in 2010.
Today, Shores' work can be found in numerous public and private collections, including the Museum of Contemporary Craft, the Portland Art Museum, the Henry Art Gallery, the Seattle Art Museum, the Johnson Wax Collection, and the Hokkaido Television Broadcasting Co. in Sapporo, Japan.
For more information on Shores' life and work, please check out the webpage for the exhibition "Generations: Ken Shores."