Smithsonian Secretary Lonnie Bunch To Present Patti Warashina With the 2020 Smithsonian Visionary Award

October 5, 2020
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Patti Warashina in her studio

Patti Warashina

Smithsonian Secretary Lonnie Bunch will present the 2020 Smithsonian Visionary Award to Seattle-based artist Patti Warashina in the virtual event “Smithsonian Visionary Award Ceremony—Honoring Patti Warashina.” The award recognizes and honors Warashina for her achievements in ceramic sculpture. The event will take place Tuesday, Oct. 13, at 8 p.m. ET. The event is free, and all are invited to attend, but registration is required.   

During her evolving career, Warashina has pushed the boundaries of clay well beyond function into the realm of fine art. From intricate all-white narrative miniatures to giant 12-foot painterly statues, her work is enchanting and provocative. She has used humor and incisive social commentary to examine important topics ranging from feminist philosophy to political commentary.

In addition to Bunch’s presentation and remarks, the ceremony will include a broad review of the artist’s groundbreaking work. Curators and experts in the field will discuss representative pieces from Warashina’s 50-year career. Among those featured is Stephanie Stebich, the Terry and Margaret Stent Director of the Smithsonian American Art Museum, who discusses an amusing and satirical early work, “Convertible Car Kiln,” which is in the museum’s permanent collection. The film is enhanced by personal insights from Warashina.

The Smithsonian Visionary Award, established in 2014, is given annually to American artists deemed by experts in the field to have achieved the pinnacle of sculptural arts and design. Albert Paley, Wendell Castle, Toots Zinsky, Dale Chilhuly, Faith Ringgold and Joyce J. Scott are previous recipients.

The award ceremony kicks off a two-week celebration of fine American craft in the form of a new, digitally imagined Smithsonian Craft Show. Other events include individual online Artists’ Shops, open from Oct. 13 through Oct. 25, plus a virtual gala and live auction Oct. 21. For more information, visit and follow the craft show on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.


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