Cassie Ryalls Butcher
I am interested in the way that human beings relate to one another. I explore human relationships and interactions by stripping the figure of details that would lead to a specific identity. My figures are connected through anonymity and the very nature of existence. Humans constantly seek to uniquely identify themselves in everyway they can: through myspace.com, bumper stickers, t-shirts, tattoos, ring tones, etc. In our search for individuality, there is still a desire to belong and connect; a fight for meaningful existence in a crowded world. My work takes the viewer back from the distractions if individuality and reconnects them to others, creating sensitivity for how they relate to others. I think one of the most basic human needs I relationship with fellow humans.
Top of Page
Cassie Ryalls Butcher
Cassie Ryalls Butcher Biography
Cassie Ryalls Butcher is currently a studio artist at Curve Studios in the River Arts District of Asheville, NC. She graduated from Berea College in Kentucky where she earned her Bachelor of Arts in Art and Psychology. Cassie’s first experiences with clay were during a summer hand-building course she took at the university near her home town in West Virginia. When she returned that fall to Berea, she took a wheel throwing class and became completely mesmerized by clay. As part of Berea’s work-study program, she worked in the Ceramic Apprenticeship Program making functional pottery. Although captivated by the wheel throwing process, what most interested her about pots was the suggestion of the human form.
Upon graduating from college, Cassie attended Penland School of Craft in North Carolina to study glaze chemistry. While at Penland, she discovered Odyssey Center for Ceramic Arts and became a resident there for the next two years. After the residency, Cassie attended the University of Florida for post-baccalaureate studies in Ceramics. Now she has set up her studio in the beautiful mountains of Asheville, NC in their River Arts District.
Despite her attempts to leave her psychology studies behind, they find their way out in her figurative sculptures. Cassie’s sculptures are inspired by people watching, conversations, her spiritual beliefs and relationships.
Cassie Ryalls Butcher Description
- What cone do you fire to?
^04 (low fire) electric kiln
- What type of clay body do you use?
Red earthenware-specifically Lyman's Red from Highwater Clays
- What types of glazes do you use - if any?
Any type that looks good at ^04! All of my souls are one of a kind so I am constantly looking for new underglazes and glazes, mixing them together, etc. I typically first apply a black copper oxide wash and wipe it back so it stays in the textures and designs to make them stand out. Then I apply underglazes and/or glazes. I like using the copper wash because it fluxes a little more so than the underglazes so it kind of burns through the matte finish with a black sheen to really complement the textures. I do mix some of my glazes, but most of them are commercial which allows me to have more color!
- What techniques do you use when constructing your work?
For my soul sculptures up to Giants (16") I have plaster molds that I made myself. I press the clay in, let it set up, take it out, texture the surface, put the front and back halves together and finish it off, continuing the design around the sides. Anything larger, I coil build. Anything over 24", I build in sections and they operate simply like putting a lid on a pot (not sure you all have anything that large at the moment). I squeeze and roll out the coils by hand, mash them so they are a little flatter, score and slip the top of the work in progress and pinch and push the big coil on to it, work it on there with my fingers, a wooden paddle to shape it and rib to compress and smooth it/create texture.
- What techniques do you use when decorating your work?
All different kinds! Mostly stamping (with stamps I've made out of clay, finding rocks, seashells or various other nature things, and many other random things: deodorant lids, kids toys, kitchen stuff, etc.), drawing with a chopstick or trimming tool or pin tool, etc.
- Is there any other information that a collector should know about you and your work?
My work does well out doors, especially in this area or ones with similar climates. Locations with more severe winters would want to bring them in.
I can build to accommodate special space in their homes, especially on larger spaces.
The surfaces are permanent. Although they are matte, it is not paint and won't wear or rub off; it is fired on.-
Reasons people like to buy my work: to represent their family members, to celebrate a birth, to remember a loved one who has passed away, for their love to be in a community/remind them they're not alone, they feel connected or represented by a specific soul, a gift to a friend to tell them they are a special soul.
People often feel overwhelmed by which one to choose. I encourage them to look around for a few minutes and then I have a space where they can place all the ones that catch their eye and see which ones they really like. This is a helpful way for them to see what it will look like by itself or in a smaller group…as people usually say that you have to have the whole group, I say start with one or a few and each time you come back add to your family/gathering/community :)
Cassie Ryalls Butcher Statement
What inspires me to make art is the way human beings relate to one another. With my sculptures I explore human relationships and interactions by stripping the figure of details that would lead to a specific identity then use the simplified figure to create reflective narratives. Without these superficial or temporal cues, my hope is to evoke a deeper sense of empathy among us. As humans, we constantly seek to uniquely identify ourselves in every way we can. In our search for individuality, there is still a deep desire to belong and connect; a fight for meaningful existence in a crowded world. My work takes us back from the distractions of individuality and reconnects us to each other, creating an introspective sensitivity for how we are not all that different from at the core. I think one of the most basic human needs is relationship with fellow humans.
Why do I call my figures ‘souls’?: I use the word ‘souls’ to describe the basic figures that are the starting point for all of my work because I feel it touches on the essence of who everyone is. It does not indicate who we are on our physical surface or who we are in our circumstances, but who we really are and how we really connect. We all experience joy, pain, suffering, sorrow, love, etc. Sculpting the human form in this style connects people on the deepest aspects of life. I want my work to have a therapeutic and relatable feel to it that draws the viewer in to empathize with it.
I love people and all their quirks and uniquenesses!
What I want my work to do is to provoke a sense of empathy for each other so that we can understand and love one anther with more compassion…without defining the exterior identity we are left with our soul, who we really are down deep.