RIPE: Faculty Exhibition at Palomar College

There are only a few days to see RIPE, the Annual Faculty Exhibition at Palomar College in San Marcos, California.

Poster announcement of art exhibition
RIPE Faculty Exhibition at Palomar College . 

My installation/wall piece, Duende, will be on view until next Tuesday. I’ll be there Monday,December 12th at 11:30AM. Join me for a guided tour of the exhibition.

Duende, by Lee Puffer. Installation view.

I’ve donated a couple of sculptures to the silent auction that supports the art department’s visiting artist program, including this small work (below).

image of snake/hand sculpture by Lee Puffer
Snake/Hand, by Lee Puffer 2016 Ceramic Sculpture



Contemporary Ceramic Sculpture at PLNU

Exhibition Announcement. Contemporary Ceramic Sculpture at Point Loma Nazarene University Keller Art Gallery
Exhibition Announcement. Contemporary Ceramic Sculpture at Point Loma Nazarene University Keller Art Gallery

I am pleased to have my installation, Duende, included in this survey exhibition of contemporary sculptors. The work is on view at the Point Loma Nazarene University Keller Art Gallery through September 30, 2016.

Click here for more information on Duende. And let me know what you think.

Detail of Duende, by Lee Puffer
Detail of Duende, by Lee Puffer
Duende, by Lee Puffer. Installation view.
Duende, by Lee Puffer. Installation view.



We Hold the Rope

net shot
“Cat’s Cradle” by Dave Veit and Lee Puffer, 2015. From an edition of black and white photographs in series.

This photograph is part of an ongoing series of images and sculpture that investigate the notion of desire. Consisting of framed original black and white photographs as well as a series of unglazed white porcelain hands bound by black rope, the work presents a monochrome meditation of desire, complicity, and accountability.

We are ultimately responsible for our thoughts, emotions and actions. Knowing this, it is still near impossible to change or control our deep longings and desires. It is so difficult to master the mind, to resolve the inner conflicts that keep us bound and captive. We are trapped by these inner conflicts. Resisting them only strengthens their hold.

As with all of my work, there are both a personal and political components. The implication of this topic, desire, is broad because so much of how we behave politically is motivated or controlled by how we feel on a deep personal level. Shame about our own fears and desires drives us to deny, suppress, repress. Conflict arises when we deny parts of ourselves, especially the part of us that is complicit with all human perpetuated atrocities. Could it be that our dark secrets denied make us an instrument in a world that is able to ignore slavery and exploitation?

We all hold the rope that keeps other humans in bondage.

This piece is about desire, base, human desire to own, dominate, and control. The human propensity for unspeakable acts of cruelty and depravation is a fascinating topic. How do we make these ideas thoughtful, beautiful, and compelling? How do we make it relevant? This is the job of the artist. Our role is to shine a light on challenging social issues with deft use of arresting imagery. We are drawn in by beauty and provocation. Only then can we ponder the deeper meaning of the work.

(On a technical note) As a figurative artist, I am a student of human anatomy. This rather awkward and painful hanging apparatus was created in Dave Veit’s studio using an aerial yoga swing as structure, as well as the net from my Duende installation. Dave gamely agreed to drill bolt-holes in the beams of his studio ceiling. I took a few aerial yoga classes at Aerial Revolution to prepare for the shoot. Professional photographer Dave Veit did the lighting, photography and postproduction. More work from this series is forthcoming.

Who’s Your Daddy?

To begin the work in this series I went looking for my parents. Not my real parents mind you (they are alive and wonderful), but my Art Parents. Art Parents are my biggest influences. Theses are artists whose work I feel most connected to at the moment as well as the artwork that has been most meaningful and impactful to my development over time. When making “Pisces”, I had two daddies.

George Condo. 2009. Courtesy Xavier Hufkens.
George Condo. 2009. Courtesy Xavier Hufkens.
Lee Puffer. "Pisces" 2014, detail. Ceramic and mixed media
Lee Puffer. “Pisces” 2014, detail. Ceramic and mixed media

The work of George Condo is really fresh and relevant to me now. His subjects are grotesque, but he treats them with empathy and humor. The figures portray the absurdity of contemporary human experience. This is something I strive for in my own work. I relate to the emotional content and cultural commentary in the work, as well as more formal characteristics of color and composition.

Lee Puffer. "Pisces" 2014, ceramic and mixed media.
Lee Puffer. “Pisces” 2014, ceramic and mixed media.
Bruce Nauman. Two Wax Heads, 1990.
Bruce Nauman. Two Wax Heads, 1990.








Bruce Nauman has been a major influence on my work for as long as I can remember. The body of work, which became Duende, took as a point of departure Nauman’s Topological Gardens, his seminal exhibition for the US pavilion at the Venice Biennale on 2009. This work drifted into my consciousness in 2009 and I began making hanging heads, starting with Being Human Now. I revisited images of Naumans work when I began Duende in 2013.

“Pisces” can bee seen in the Faculty Exhibition at Grossmont College through September11, 2014.

New Work at American Museum of Ceramic Art

Postcard Announcement for AMOCA exhibition
Postcard Announcement for AMOCA exhibition

Three sculptures from the “Duende” series have been chosen for exhibition at the American Museum of Ceramic Art (AMOCA) next month as part of the series. showcases college ceramics instructors and their students. All four instructors from Palomar College Ceramics were chosen to exhibit, along with students we nominated from our program. The exhibiton runs April 12, 2014 through June 1, with an opening reception on April 12 in the evening.

Also representing Palomar College are professors Kelly Schnorr, Sasha Koozel Reibstein, and Michael Corney. I look forward to seeing the installation at AMOCA to see what other fine professors and students will be represented. They have yet to release a full list of exhibiting artists, so it will be a surprise.

As I mentioned, the work I am putting in the museum comes from a recent series, Duende. I discuss the inspiration and motivation behind this work in this earlier blog post.

See you at AMOCA.


This body of work is different. I gave myself a different challenge at the outset. I wanted to begin with parameters, and create some formal arrangements based on these parameters. My suspicion was that the emotional content would reveal itself in the process, because I work with human figures and features, this seemed very likely. I set out to make highly distilled, technically challenging, formally successful sculpture.

Duende, Installation detailIt may seem odd but I wanted to make the work meaningful while doing less. In the past I have found myself agonizing over every element I would include in a sculpture, forcing and belaboring the details. This time I wanted to interfere less with the message. I wanted to see if I could still imply human flesh, muscle and skin by touching the clay fewer times.

My parameters were physical as well a theoretical: anatomically correct heads and hands, but also line, shape, rhythm, negative space, balance. The repletion of brackets and ropes, the variation in line quality between the nets and the rope, the difference in visual and actual weight between heads and net are all issues that interest me. How can a sculpture occupy space by implying a body?

Then of course the content emerges. It is a fun challenge for me to try to make emotions and ideas visible. How do you take something that is intangible, like a feeling, and make it a physical object that you can hold in your hand? In making Duende I found myself thinking about irrational emotions and longing, the things you feel whether you want to or not. This piece is about the beautiful agony of a desire that defies intellect and logic. Is it brutal and painful? Yes, but metaphorically so. Some of the heads are suffering more acutely than others, some are merely observing themselves in this situation. It is a metaphor for a kind of love. This figure is hooked, she is on the hook for her feelings both by her own doing and in spite of her logic and intellect denying those same feelings. This piece is an attempt to exorcise these feelings as well as to utilize them constructively.