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College honors former sculptor, photographer

Karlie Bettencourt
Staff Writer

The tradition of Raku in pottery making was kept mainly in Japan’s borders until Paul Soldner developed a low-temperature salt firing form of Raku and brought it to America.

Wall pieces, monoprints and Raku are the highlight of the works done by Paul Soldner, who died in January.

The work is currently on display at the Ruth Chandler Williamson Gallery at Scripps College.

The current collection, “Serendipity: Paul Soldner, Artist and Provocateur,” reveals his distinctive approaches to his work and honors him and all the contributions he brought to Scripps and the art world.

“Each piece has stood out in its own way,” said Manhattan Beach resident, Gail Fenner. “They have a lot of spontaneity, although Soldner had a lot of control.”

“Black is Beautiful” is a wall piece Soldner created in 1969. It was hand-built with Raku clay and uses gray and black in different shades.

The oval-like shape has the colors marbled throughout the stone with a picture of three women on it.

The piece is exquisite with its use of color dynamic and highlights of the black against the gray.

Another wall piece that really stood out was “Self-Examination.” It was also hand-created with raku clay.

This piece included a picture of a woman touching her breast with a footprint pressed into the clay where her face should be and tracks going through the clay around the corners.

“I think Soldner’s work presented innovative techniques for clay sculpting,” freshman music major, Vicky Campos, said.

“It was really fascinating that he used his shoe marks and tires to represent where he came from.”

Also included in the exhibit were advertisements that Soldner had running in the magazine “Ceramics Monthly” from 1976 to 1996.

The advertisements were for Soldner pottery wheels and clay mixers.

In the center of the room, some of the pictures that Soldner took in 1949 at Konzen­trationslager Maulthausen in Austria were on display.

The photographs were gruesome, displaying bodies of people that died from starvation and depicted the terrible working conditions that captives in the concentration camp were put under.

Soldner was a conscious objector to the war and was required to work at a concentration camp.

While he was there he was inspired to become an artist.

The Williamson Gallery chose to use Soldner’s work for an exhibit for many reasons.

“He taught here for more than 30 years,” said collections manager and registrar for the Williamson gallery, Kirk Delman. “He was an important faculty member and artist.”

Soldner was a frequent contributor to firing art and new practices.

He is best known for his contributions in that area.

“Through Paul’s curiosity and interest, he created an American style of Raku and promoted it in America,” Delman said.

In case any visitors to the gallery want to know information about Soldner and his work, there are movies set up around the gallery for visitors to watch while looking at his work.

Karlie Bettencourt can be reached at

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