|Acquisition Number: 2017.6
Size: 34 3/4" x 27 1/2" x 17 1/2"
Credit: Purchased by the Canton Museum of Art
Rudy Autio was born in Butte, Montana, in 1926.
He attended Montana State University, where he met and befriended Peter Voulkos and studied under Frances Seska. Autio and Voulkos were inspired by Abstract Expressionism, and that inspiration is evident in Autio's work. Even though he primarily focused on ceramics, Autio also worked in bronze, concrete, glass, metal, fiber, and drawing.
In 1952, Autio, along with Voulkos, were the first resident artists at the Archie Bray Ceramics Foundation in Helena, Montana. Frances Seska inspired them to take advantage of Bray's clay studio, and they worked in the brick factory during the day to pay their way. Autio later started the Ceramics Department in 1957 at the University of Montana, where he was the head for 28 years.
Benediction was made during Archie Bray’s 50th anniversary in 2001, titled “Clay Odyssey.” Autio was one of the artists invited to participate. The piece was later wood fired at Lubrecht nearby, then fired again in Autio’s electric kiln. The piece was never exhibited before coming to the Canton Museum of Art.
Rudy attended church every Sunday when he was young. He was also commissioned to paint many religious murals for churches. This suggests that the title “Benediction” may have come from Autio’s background experiences, although probably isn’t religious in nature. Rudy’s son Chris said that Rudy named “Benediction” based on “what came to mind” at the time.
Rudy Autio was diagnosed with leukemia in 2005 and began treatment. He passed away in 2007, continuing to create art up until his death. His legacy remains in his work, the artists he taught and influenced, and his role in founding Archie Bray.