Woody De Othello: Breathing Room

  • Installation view of Woody De Othello: Breathing Room, San José Museum of Art, California, 2019. Photos by JKA Photography.

  • A vertical blue squiggly nondescript sculpture with a silver grate attached to it, sitting on the edge of a blue carpeted gallery with blue walls. On the wall is a electrical outlet ceramic sculpture.
  • A gallery shot with dark blue walls, dark blue plinths, and dark blue carpeting. Spotlights highlight several small paintings. The raisers in the center of the room feature several anthropomorphized sculptures that are somewhere between vase and model.
  • Multiple sculptures are in a blue gallery. The sculptures have a melting quality, like they are breathing and moving. One ceramic in  has a large ear and hand covering what could be its eyes. A bold painting of warm colors hangs in the background.
  • Dark blue painted gallery with a T-shaped pedestal featuring three sculptures on stools and one standing directly on the pedestal.  The sculptures have spotlights illuminating them. Two spotlighted paintings are on the walls.
  • Dark blue painted gallery with two spotlighted ceramic and colorful sculptures on the ground.  Both sculptures are sitting on stools and are very abstract. One appears to have a large foot and an ear. There are two spotlighted paintings on the wall.
  • A dark blue gallery with spotlighted abstract painting on the wall and a pedestal with a ceramic sculpture on a ceramic stool. There is a large shadow on the wall from the sculpture.
  • A gallery with dark walls with an abstract painting on the wall and a ceramic sculpture placed near the wall that appears to be a tall, triangular box on four legs. The sculpture is reminiscent of an old wall radiator.
  • A dark gallery with walls and floor painted dark colors. In the front is an abstract sculpture on a ceramic stool. In the background is a pedestal with another ceramic sculpture on a stool with a painting. There is dramatic lighting on all three pieces.

    Oakland-based artist Woody De Othello creates anthropomorphized household objects in ceramic. Belying their cheery and colorful veneers is a darkly comedic sense of exhaustion. Born in Miami to a family of Haitian descent, Othello is interested in the nature of many African objects, which offer both ritual and utilitarian functions and possess a spirit of their own. His sculptures express a tension between the animate and inanimate and draw humor from a place of pain. For his project at the SJMA—the artist’s first solo museum presentation—Othello is creating a new body of work based around his Defeated, depleted (2018), a sculpture recently acquired by San José Museum of Art.​

    Woody De Othello: Breathing Room is supported by the San José Museum of Art's exhibitions fund, with contributions from Tad Freese and Brook Hartzell, the Lipman Family Foundation, and Donna and Marvin C. Schwartz.

    Programs at SJMA are made possible by generous support from the Museum's Board of Trustees, a Cultural Affairs Grant from the City of San José, the Lipman Family Foundation, Yvonne and Mike Nevens, Facebook Art Department, the Richard A. Karp Charitable Foundation, The David and Lucile Packard Foundation, Yellow Chair Foundation, the SJMA Director's Council and Council of 100, the SJMA Endowment Fund established by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation at the Silicon Valley Community Foundation, and The William Randolph Hearst Foundation.​



    6 ceramic sculpture exhibitions not to miss, San Francisco Chronicle
    July 29, 2019

    Museum Highlights, November 2019, SF/Arts Monthly
    November 1, 2019

    Artist Woody De Othello's Oversize Ceramic Sculptures Distort Household Furniture and Appliances, W Magazine
    November 14, 2019

    On View: ‘Woody De Othello: Breathing Room’ at San José Art Museum, Culture Type
    November 24, 2019

    Woody De Othello Mixes Playful with Political, Cultured Magazine
    November 28, 2019

    The Class of 2019? Meet 6 Fast-Rising Artists Having Star Turns at This Year’s Art Basel Miami Beach, artnet News
    December 3, 2019

    Gravity at Play: Woody De Othello, Mousse Magazine
    January 16, 2020


    • A glossy black vessel sits atop a cartoonish blue stool. An ear sticks out on the right, an arm curves in from the left, a pair of lips rest bottom center. The vessel's opening at the top is tied into a knot, curving downward as if it were crestfallen.

      Woody De Othello
      Defeated, depleted, 2018. Ceramic, underglaze, and glaze, 38 × 22 × 19 inches; San Jose Museum of Art. Gift of Tad Freese and the Lipman Family Foundation; 2018.13.

    • A fluorescent orange vessel rests on a tall, blue marble-glazed stool that appears wobbly with legs that get thinner as they reach the floor. The vessel resembles an abstracted arm curling in on itself, the overly large hand hiding most of itself.

      Woody De Othello
      getting in my own way, 2019. Ceramic and glaze: 39 × 19 × 19 inches overall; vessel: 18 × 20 × 14 inches; base: 22 × 19 × 19 inches. Image courtesy of Jessica Silverman Gallery.

    • A mint green and yellow vessel rests on a stand with 3 sealed drawers. The stand's blue-green texture is lumpy. It is top heavy, getting narrower as it is closer to the floor. The vessel resembles a short stout abstract face, as a hand curls from the right to cover hidden eyes.

      Woody De Othello
      vessel for feelings of shame and guilt, 2019. Ceramic and glaze, 66 × 22 × 20 inches overall; vessel: 24 × 22 × 16 inches; base: 42 × 20 × 20 inches. Image courtesy of the Jessica Silverman Gallery.

    • A caramel orange glazed arm reaches up and rests atop the side profile of a head, creating a circle. This form sits atop a blue wobbly stand with brown thin legs—the drawers of the stand peaking open.

      Woody De Othello
      weighing down, 2019. Ceramic and glaze: 50 × 20 × 20 in. overall; vessel: 20 × 20 × 8 inches; base: 29 × 20 × 20 inches. Image courtesy of Jessica Silverman Gallery.