Bellevue Arts Museum to present new solo exhibition from ceramic artist Tip Toland

June 22, 2021
Images: Tip Toland, African Child with Albinism 1, Grace Flirts, Remembrance (detail). Courtesy of the artist and Traver Gallery, Seattle.

June 22, 2021
Contact: Emilie Smith


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Tip Toland: Empathy in Clay is on view at Bellevue Arts Museum July 23, 2021 – January 2, 2022

Bellevue, WA—Ceramic artist Tip Toland is returning to Bellevue Arts Museum for a new solo exhibition opening July 23. Tip Toland: Empathy in Clay presents a selection of both new and older works from Toland, highlighting her unique ability to capture vulnerable human moments in clay.

Arranged as a mini-retrospective, Empathy in Clay features 15 works from throughout Toland’s career. Four of Toland’s early two-dimensional surrealist bas reliefs will be on view, alongside two of her iconic full-figured freestanding clay sculptures. The exhibition will also include a frieze of eight new life-sized masks, based on a series of Toland’s own self-portraits.

Empathy in Clay will also include a screening of the Northwest Designer Craftsmen Living Treasures documentary of the same name, allowing visitors to hear Toland tell her own life story as well as commentary from her friends and mentors. Toland’s work previously appeared at BAM in her 2008 solo exhibition, Melt, the Figure in Clay, and in the group shows Making Our Mark: Art by Pratt Teaching Artists (2017) and BAM Biennial 2010: Clay Throwdown (2010).



Tip Toland is a dynamic and courageous sculptor, both in the scale of her work and her choice of subjects. Her hyper-realistic ceramic sculptures are emotionally charged pieces that depict beauty, humanity, and vulnerability through an intentionally diverse collection of non-conventionally ‘beautiful’ characters.

As a teacher, Toland has inspired and mentored many figurative sculptors across the country and is considered by her students to be humble, selfless, and generous of spirit. Through the science of observation and knowledge of anatomy, she trains students to hone their observational skills. And by sharing her experience in building large-scale work, she has moved the ceramic field forward.

Toland works primarily out of her home studio in rural Washington.


Tip Toland: Empathy in Clay is organized by Bellevue Arts Museum in partnership with Northwest Designer Craftsmen and curated by Lane Eagles. Media sponsor: KCTS 9. In-kind support from Seattle SignShop.



Bellevue Arts Museum provides a public forum for the community to contemplate, appreciate, and discuss visual culture. We work with audiences, artists, makers, and designers to understand our shared experience of the world.