Beth Cavener, also known as Beth Cavener Stichter, is an American artist based out of Montana. A classically trained sculptor, her process involves building complex metal armatures to support massive amounts of clay. Cavener is best known for her fantastical animal figures, which embody the complexity of human emotion and behavior.
Cavener addresses controversial subject matter head on and in direct opposition to the reputation of her chosen medium, clay. The artist focuses her sculpture on human psychology, stripped of context and rationalization, and articulated through animal forms. As she states, “on the surface, these figures are simply feral animals suspended in a moment of tension. Beneath the surface, they embody the consequences of human fear, apathy, aggression, and misunderstanding”. Her process is very physical, involving thousands of pounds clay sculpted using her whole body. Her work has earned many awards, and is exhibited in private galleries and public museums throughout the United States.
Cavener was born in 1972 in Pasadena, California. Her father is a molecular biologist, and inspired Cavener to study science up until college. She would work in his lab in the summers, and says that she aspired to a career as an academic scientist. Her mother, Nancy Jacobsohn, a sculptor and an art teacher, taught Cavener how to work with clay starting at an early age. Cavener went on to pursue her studies in physics and astronomy at Haverford College in Pennsylvania. News of her parent’s impending divorce came before her senior year, and she decided to travel to Florence, Italy, where she attended the Cecil Academy of Art. Upon returning, Cavener switched her major to Fine Art and received a BA in Sculpture in 1995.
After receiving her MFA, Cavener spent two years as a resident artist at the Archie Bray Foundation for the Ceramic Arts from 2000-2002, and then completed a brief Guest Artist residency at The Clay Studio in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in 2004. She then traveled for residencies in Jingdezhen, China (2008), La Meridiana, Certaldo, Italy (2012), and at the Shigaraki Ceramic Cultural Park in Shigaraki, Japan (2013). She has been represented by the Garth Clark Gallery and Claire Oliver Gallery in New York, NY. Cavener is currently represented by the Jason Jacques Gallery in Manhattan, and opened the exhibition, “The Other”, in November 2017, with 5 new major pieces.
In addition to her full-time studio practice, Cavener and partner, Alessandro Gallo, opened a group professional studio space in 2014 under the name Studio 740 in Helena, MT. in order to mentor and support young emerging artists. She is vocal about the lack of funding for young artists, and has completed two successful crowd-funding initiatives, one in partnership with United States Artists (USA) in 2011 and another self-directed initiative using Patreon, to support the artists in residence of Studio 740.