An enchanting play on words, both metaphoric and utilitarian, Walking on Eggshells represents the fragility of earth’s environment. It belongs to Warashina’s Drunken Power Series, a collection of porcelain Sake Sets, each one carrying a powerful message. The woman holding the branch is an ewer, the egg on her head is the lid of the container, the branch in her hand is the pouring spout, and the eggshells are the drinking cups. The serving tray, which has indented handles on the sides, is the landscape she is resting on and must protect. 

Patti Warashina

2020 Smithsonian Visionary Artist

Patti Warashina was born in Seattle, Washington in 1940. She is called the queen of Northwest ceramics. In the 1960s, she was part of a cadre of young rebel artists who expanded the boundaries of clay as an art medium. She began teaching in 1964 and helped grow the ceramics program at the University of Washington’s School of Art, into one of the best-known in the United States. 

Warashina’s work is often humorous, and she uses sculpture to explore such themes as the human condition, feminism, the macho car-culture, and political and social topics. She often places clay figures in imagined environments and to tell stories.

In 1984, the Seattle Arts Commission chose her for a prestigious public-art commission that became one of the city’s most celebrated artworks. A Procession, a 4’ by 10’ x 3’ tableau built of whiteware and mixed media, includes 72 figures parading over—and floating under—a bridge, like a triumphal arch, each depicting a recognizable person in the Seattle art world, artists, sculptors, art critics. A Procession is in the Washington State Convention Center in downtown Seattle. 

Warashina’s work is in the permanent collection of Smithsonian American Art’s Renwick Gallery and in more than twenty museums in the U.S., Asia, England, and Australia. She has received numerous awards and in 2005, was interviewed for Smithsonian’s Archives of American Art. A Professor Emerita at the University of Washington, Warashina dedicated decades to teaching ceramics, considered by some to be the most difficult and challenging of all art media.

Rago is privileged to participate in this exceptional event, celebrating these extraordinary artists and supporting one of our nation’s most important cultural institutions.

Suzanne Perrault

The Smithsonian Women's Committee Visionary Benefit Auction

Works Sold to Benefit The Smithsonian Institution

Rago is pleased to include The Smithsonian Women’s Committee Visionary Benefit Auction within our Modern Design sale on May 14th. This special section features works created by past and present Smithsonian Visionary Artists and by the winners of the new Smithsonian Women’s Committee Delphi Award.

The Smithsonian Visionary Award, established in 2014, is presented annually to artists who are deemed by curators in the field to have risen to the pinnacle in the world of sculptural arts and design, who have works in major museums, and who have demonstrated distinction, creativity, artistry, and, of course, vision in his or her respective medium.  

David Ellsworth and Michael Hurwitz, 2021 recipients of the Visionary Award, join the small but prestigious list of past recipients: Patti Warashina, Joyce J. Scott, Faith Ringgold, Dale Chihuly, Toots Zynsky, Wendell Castle, and Albert Paley.

All lots in the Visionary Benefit Auction are of the primary market, unless otherwise indicated. The auction raises funds to support projects and initiatives across the Smithsonian institution. All works will be shipped directly from the artist or the gallery.