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Kansas sculptor creates quirky masterpieces from thrift store treasures

Tatum Friedrich for Vox Magazine
October 22, 2015

Artists can base their creations on any inspired idea; Amy Santoferraro bases hers on thrift shop souvenirs. She crafts a wide range of works out of the eclectic objects she has gathered over the years.

Santoferraro, an assistant professor of ceramics at Kansas State University, creates pieces that are patchworks of eye-catching items from all kinds of corner shops, thrifting adventures and mom-and-pop stores.

Someone’s discarded plastic bluebird or a teapot from the local antique joint can be added to a work or the inspiration for a whole new art piece. No matter how they come together, her pieces always begin with the discovery of a curious object.

For Santoferraro, collecting is fascinating and has been a lifelong hobby. As a child, she began secretly collecting the packets of silica that come in shoeboxes (the ones that often read: “Throw away. Do not eat.”). Today, she expresses the relationship between collector and beloved collections through her art.

“I think that sort of mentality of looking at things as a bonus or unexpected has kept with me for a very long time,” Santoferraro says.

Between her concept and the finished product, Santoferraro’s pieces go through multiple iterations. She describes the process of making her kilned pieces as “a trial by fire, quite literally.”

Santoferraro’s upcoming exhibit, “Playgrown,” at Greg Hardwick Gallery, was first intended to showcase multiple pieces in a single series. However, she decided to join them all together into one entity for this exhibition.

Bo Bedelion, director of Greg Hardwick Art Gallery, has known Santoferraro for a few years and is looking forward to seeing how her show will come together this time.

“I’ve always enjoyed her work,” he says. “Her previous bodies of work have been quite diverse, and I’m excited to see what this one is going to be all about.”