Diana ceramic sculpture by Betty Woodman

On the loss of Pioneering Artist Betty Woodman

We at the Denver Art Museum are saddened to hear of the death of ceramics artist Betty Woodman. She died January 2, 2018 at the age of 87. The DAM is honored to have several of her artworks in our collection. Woodman's Japanese Lady Vase was a visitor favorite.

Betty Woodman Japanese vase
Betty Woodman (American, born 1930), Japanese Lady Vase, 2005. Glazed earthenware, epoxy, resin, lacquer, and paint. Volunteer Endowment Funds in honor of R. Craig Miller, 2007.151. © Betty Woodman.

Rebecca R. Hart, the DAM's Vicki and Kent Logan Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art, one of the DAM curators who had a relationship with Betty and George Woodman, says:

“Betty Woodman was unassuming and always loved life. Over the past decade, she and I exchanged emails each fall as she and George would shove off for their beloved Italian studio, a place where she found immense creative energy. Woodman was confident working with the quotidian, and through it she discovered her genius, a vision that propelled her to international fame.

"In Woodman’s practice, humble clay was formed into objects that seemed to dance and soar—to become figural and limitless—informing her experiments with the vessel and as a drawing material. This impulse is enshrined in Somewhere Between Naples and Denver—part of the Denver Art Museum’s collection—which combines ceramics, architecture, and drawing as it celebrates the vessel as object and as metaphor, positioned in the lineage of the history of art."

Somewhere Between Naples and Denver, a ceramics installation by Betty Woodman that was on view at the Denver Art Museum
Image: Gallery view of Somewhere Between Naples and Denver, on view at the DAM in 1988. Betty Woodman (American, born 1930), Somewhere Between Naples and Denver, 1988. Glazed earthenware. Gift of the artist and Charles Woodman, 2001.639.1-8. © Betty Woodman.

According to materials written for Somewhere Between Naples and Denver in 1988:

Betty Woodman designed a ceramic courtyard installation expressly for the Denver Art Museum. Somewhere Between Naples and Denver derives its title from her life and work in her studios in Boulder, New York, and Florence, Italy. The one-of-a-kind installation was inspired by the courtyard of the Church of Santa Chiara in Naples.

Image at top: Betty Woodman (American, born 1930), Diana, 1991. Ceramic. Funds from Scott Chamberlin by exchange, Apache Corporation, Alliance for Contemporary Art 1991 Smiley's Benefit, Bonfils-Stanton Foundation, and departmental acquisition funds, 1991.764A-B. © Betty Woodman.

Carleen Brice is content manager in the marketing department at the Denver Art Museum. Carleen has been at the DAM since 2013. Every day at the museum she is reminded of this quote by Maya Angelou: "You can’t use up creativity. The more you use, the more you have."