Jerry Rothman has spent his career making art that pushes the limitations of clay. Born in Brooklyn, New York, in 1933, he moved to Los Angeles and later received his BA from the Art Center College of Design and his MFA from the Otis Art Institute. He is part of a group of artists from Otis who revolutionized the ceramic art world with their radical departure from European tradition, as utilitarian vessels gave way to forms of pure artistic expression.
Rothman has always worked as a potter and as a sculptor. As an artist, he has maximized on his divergent interests: between functional and sculptural, between classic and baroque, between the serious and the comic. Stylistically his work is difficult to categorize, due to his varying interests throughout his career. Noted authority on ceramics Garth Clark says, “Rothman’s aesthetic credo is largely based on the belief that there is no such thing as intrinsic beauty in any given material, contending that the inherent qualities are simply those that the artist can see and extract.”
Feat of Clay: Five Decades of Jerry Rothman, was his first retrospective, follows the stages of his career beginning with his introduction to ceramics in the 1950s through to his most recent work. Because Rothman is one of Laguna Beach’s most eminent artists and a former professor at California State University, Fullerton, it was fitting that this exhibition was organized by Laguna Art Museum in collaboration with California State University, Fullerton’s Grand Central Art Center. Laguna Art Museum featured work from 1956 to 1997, and the chronology continued through 2003 at Grand Central Art Center.