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Butler carves his way to success

A new de Young exhibit is proudly showcasing art from Bay Area residents, including ceramics teacher Bradford Butler, who contributes a sculpture from his latest collection. Butler has been making ceramics for 16 years and continues to be inspired everyday. 

Butler’s journey in ceramics started back when he was in high school attending Marin Catholic. 

“I got into ceramics my junior year of high school, where I had an incredible teacher who became my mentor [and] one of my great friends. It was through his motivation [and] instruction that helped me find a creative voice,” Butler said. 

Butler’s creative voice has grown throughout the years. With each new sculpture, he starts with his initial creativity and goes from there to develop an end product. He loves the hands-on aspect that ceramics has to offer as well as the intimacy and accessibility. 

“It’s nice that you’re able to touch it. Your fingers leave a mark and that mark stays there forever,” Butler said.

Ceramics student and senior Alessandra Alioto reflects on the ways Butler guides his students to success and lets them expand their creativity to what they think is best for their project. 

Proud of his creation, Butler smiles next to a sculpture from his new collection.

“He definitely always [helps us] us expand our work, he wants us to do the best that we can and [have] our own takes on every project that we do. We’ll use his standards and then we’ll expand on that and add our own creative insight into it,” Alioto said. 

Butler has had previous works displayed in various exhibits throughout different art galleries in the past. He has worked hard on his sculpting in order to publish his sculpture in the prestigious de Young Museum. 

“The sculpture comes from a series called ‘New Type Vessels’ where it [reflects] the modernization of a vessel. Ceramics and craft has always been bogged down and not accepted on the same level as painting, so my goal was to keep the work rooted in the form of traditional ceramics,” Butler said. “I used modern construction materials that can ooze, blister and pop. [With] the material being different, I was hoping to create a category that evaluates craft, fine art and ceramics.’’ 

Displaying his creativity, Butler’s sculpture is represented in the de Young exhibition.

Ginger Howard, a junior in honors ceramics has seen the process of Butler’s creations coming to life. She has watched him develop his ideas in class and create a whole series with different sculptures.

“He worked on the sculptures in class every day and created different sculptures under a similar theme. It’s been cool to see him achieve his goal and have his sculpture represented in the museum,” Howard said.

Butler’s journey isn’t anywhere near over; he’s hoping that this is one stepping stone into pushing his art further out in the world. He realizes that his sculpture being presented in the de Young Museum is a fantastic opportunity that could lead to further exposure. 

“I’m hoping that this sculpture at the de Young opens up more opportunities for art shows, exhibitions, collectors and commissions from people who want to acquire and live with my art,” Butler said. 

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About the Contributor
Molly Gallagher, Reporter
Molly Gallagher is a junior at Redwood High School and a reporter for the Redwood Bark. She enjoys playing sports, traveling, and hanging out with family and friends.