Seattle artist Charles Krafft utilizes the traditional techniques and materials of decorative Delft ceramic painting to explore the sometimes-Orwellian realities of our times. Images of natural and socio-political catastrophes decorate his ceramic objects. In addition to ironic commemorative plates and plaques, Krafft makes porcelain weapons and ammunition.
"Contemporary art should be relevant to our lives and experiences," Krafft has said. "The time we live in produces curious and splendid souvenirs of the events we live through."
Graphics, collages, prints, paintings, assemblages and human bone china reliquaries 'Spone' round out his disturbingly evocative yet compelling oeuvre.
"Collector plates are something we've all seen in souvenir shops. You can usually find a maudlin portrait or a rhapsodic pastoral scene," Krafft has explained. "But you never find the pictures of the gritty life most of us are living in the 21st century on ornamental china because no one would want to hang it on their walls, much less eat off it."
Krafft's insidiously clever juxtapositions of traditional ceramic technologies with his darkly humorous commentary on world events and media manipulation have brought him significant international acclaim. Over the past several years he has collaborated with Slovenia's Neue Slowenische Kunst collective (NSK) as their unofficial Minister of Defence, working to connect peoples of different cultures through contemporary art. NSK upped the ante on collectivism and declared itself a transglobal borderless "state-in-time" in 1993. He took on the responsibility of creating the ceremonial dinner ware for their official state functions.
Charles Krafft began his artistic career as a Seattle painter, influenced by the four iconic "Northwest School" artists: Mark Tobey, Morris Graves, Kenneth Callahan, and Guy Anderson. Working for years in regional obscurity, in 1991 he joined a women's china-painting guild and soon launched his 'Disasterware' series, which has brought him several grants, residencies and exhibitions in some of world's more adventurous museums and galleries.