Tony Kukich

Artist Statement

There is a story in the making of objects that can’t be explained with words. It’s this story that has held my attention ever since I discovered making art. Sometimes the story is simple, sometimes profound and sometimes difficult. But it’s always interesting and forever changing. My current work began as reflections on my partner’s illness, a disease that has inexorably altered and shaped our lives. After years of consciously overlooking these experiences in my work, I began to acknowledge them as important and compelling ideas that couldn’t be compartmentalized or ignored any longer. The idea that pain and suffering can make a person more kind and empathetic was surprising and interesting to consider. And so I began to investigate other seemingly incompatible and discordant ideas that can exist in the same person at the same time; balance and instability, worthlessness and preciousness, comfort and anxiety, knowledge and ignorance etc. At first I was making objects that related to very specific and personal episodes, but as the work has evolved I have been following rather than trying to lead it. Which means that I often don’t understand my own work while I’m making it. For me, the best and most powerful work is that which reveals itself well after it’s completion.


Born in Duluth, MN Tony Kukich has been fascinated by art and making things from a very early age, which continually confused and amused his parents and three sisters. Kukich is a multi-faceted ceramic sculptor who also works in pottery, painting, and drawing. He studied art at Bemidji State University (BFA) and Indiana University (MFA). He has had a wide range of influential teachers including, Rimas Visgirda, Marley Kaul, Robert Brady, Kent Dawalt and Sandy Simon among others. His work has been shown nationally and internationally is included in many public and private collections and has won numerous awards including a National Society of Arts & Letters Career Award and a McKnight Fellowship. His work has been described as preternatural, existing in a place somewhere between the clear eyed and quixotic. And although he often explores difficult and complicated subjects, his work maintains a whimsical and sometimes cartoon-like quality. He is also a life long athlete who won a national championship in springboard diving and was recently inducted into the Bemidji State University Athletic Hall of Fame. He and his partner Amy live and work in Saint Paul, MN.