Artist Whitney Lowe Finds Context in Clay at PDX

Now on view post-security within Concourse D (through September 2024) is an exquisite temporary exhibition of fourteen (14) captivating ceramics produced exclusively by Portland, Oregon-based artist Whitney Lowe. Aptly titled Finding, Lowe’s exhibition of skillfully crafted sculpture is intentionally refined.

Whitney Lowe’s approach to clay and the sculptural results directly relate to his 2-decade-long career as an architect and graphic designer. His ceramic work–as with all his 2-D and 3-D design work–is spatially intricate with an emphasis on the sharpness of edge to create line. His approach to clay is very much like his typography and font designs creating mass and void. This usually results in a complex composition of molded forms and surfaces treated in black “because shadow and silhouette compresses a visual reading and gives little away”. It has always remained stark anonymity–mystery and beauty–that Lowe pursues in his object-making. 

Photo courtesy Froelick Gallery
Whitney Lowe, Turbidity no._1 Flow, 2018
Whitney Lowe, Peristalsis no._2, 2019

I am consciously pursuing a carefully nuanced interrelationship between modernity conventions by signaling the machine and manufacturing with a desire to exploit the material warmth and skin-like characteristics inherent in clay.

Whitney Lowe, Turbidity no._4 Caress, 2018

It’s a play between objective pursuits—rigor, precision, anonymity, austerity—pivoting to pressure, weight, and compression that are resonant of intimacy and flesh. Viewing the extravagantly constructed forms is analogous to reading the printed letterform; the eye understands the graphic outline yet lingers because of the precise manipulation—the turbid pleasures—of matter in the play of mass and void, the creation of taut edges and urgent lines.

Whitney Lowe, Faceted Totem, 2012

Planar surfaces stripped of any mark of the hand and unblemished by decoration convey desolate spaces of uninhabited cities or discarded objects of alien origin. 

Whitney Lowe, X-Tower Red, 2016

The goal may be an aesthetic directness; yet, careful inspection reaps deep rewards, revealing nuanced forms that layer historical quotations and material play. The title “Finding” comes from Andrei Tarkovsky’s quote “A true artist does not experiment or search—he finds.” Whitney Lowe

Whitney Lowe, Endless Oval, 2013

Whitney Lowe began his career as a graphic designer. With the fortuitous meeting of luminaries from Cranbrook & California Institute of the Arts, he became one of the founding principals of ReVerb, a Los Angeles-based graphic design studio that was awarded the “Chrysler Award for Design Innovation” in 1994, included in the prestigious ID40 issue, and featured in the British graphic design magazine Eye. In 1997 he was recruited as a creative director by the advertising agency Wieden+Kennedy and was responsible for such noted campaigns as Windows 98, the Microsoft Image Campaign 99, Diet Coke, and most recently Starbucks. 

Whitney Lowe, Peristalsis no._4, 2018
Whitney Lowe, Pentagon, 2014
Whitney Lowe, Turbidity no._3 Passage, 2019

It was the events of 9/11, though, that compelled Lowe to rethink his ambitions and priorities. With his passionate interest and scholarly knowledge of 20th c. ceramics, he decided to pursue making, having never previously touched wet clay. After receiving a Post-Baccalaureate in ceramics from the Oregon College of Art & Craft, Lowe decided to commit to a studio practice and went on to have shows at Froelick Gallery in 2014, 2017, and 2019. 

Whitney Lowe, X-Tower Black, 2012
Whitney Lowe, Turbidity no._2 Reach, 2018

Whitney Lowe studied Architecture at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, received a BFA in Graphic Design & Packaging at Art Center College of Design, and the aforementioned Post-Baccalaureate from OCAC. His work is in the collection of the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, Crocker Art Museum, Sacramento California, and NAU Art Museum, Flagstaff Arizona as well as numerous private collections. 

For more information about this exhibition or artwork inquiries, please contact:

Whitney Lowe’s website: