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Sgraffito Design Vessels: Larry Allen Exhibition Recap

Kentuck's Museum Gallery will host the works of Larry Allen until February 26th, 2023. Sgraffito Design Vessels is the opening exhibition of Kentuck's 2023 exhibition season The Ties That Bind. This exhibition season focuses on connections—how artists honor their past, how art can build a common experience, how our environment links its inhabitants together, how ideas and stories permeate our individual experiences to create a shared culture, and how these “ties” work together to bind individuals together.


"I am a potter."


These were the first words Larry Allen spoke at his artist talk , standing amidst his vessels in Kentuck's Museum Gallery on Thursday, February 2, 2023. The statement is solidified in the the thoughtful, progressive designs that pervade his work.


Larry Allen was born and raised in Birmingham, Alabama and has been a working artist for 35 years. He was always drawing and sketching while he was a youngster, but he didn’t embrace pottery until 1975, when majored in art at Kentucky’s Berea College. The first time he saw someone throwing on a wheel, he was awestruck.


"It was a mile a minute after that, I found where I wanted to be."


Allen is ambitious and appreciates a challenge; he works hard to truly seek and find what speaks to him.

All of his pottery is wheel thrown and involves a technique called sgraffito, a method in which he carves designs into leather hard clay that’s been completely covered with a colored slip. His vessels are inspired by Native American and African art.


"I consider myself an artist and a craftsman, artists want to make a statement, and craftsmen are particular and precise about things....I gravitate to the hardest pieces they are the ones that make me really work for them."


September, 11 2001 was the most significant event in his life in terms of his designs. After this historic event, unity became the message that was so clear Larry needed to put it in his work. After witnessing the common experience that united the nation, he began the unity designs that are prevalent on almost all his works on display in Kentuck's Museum Gallery. At first glance they appear as simple geometric patterns, but upon closer inspection are actually people holding hands!


"I choose forms that really make me work for them, you really have to push yourself."


Allen's work can be seen in Marvel’s Black Panther: Wakanda Forever. He was named a Berea College Distinguished Alumnus in 2019, and has won multiple awards at the Kentuck Festival of the Arts. He exhibits regularly at galleries and festivals throughout the southeast.


Sgraffito Design Vessels will be on view in Kentuck's Museum Gallery until February 26, 2023. We encourage you to visit this show in person during our open hours of Monday-Friday, 9:30-5:30 and Saturday-Sunday, 12-4.


Available Work:

If you are interested in purchasing a piece of Larry's work, please call us at 205-758-1257 or email mbell@kentuck.org. For a closer look, please click on each image.



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