Hunting at Dusk

Karin Gulbran

07.05.2024 | 11.05.2024
Pièce Unique

Companion piece by Anna Mayer

I spend a lot of my time online watching animals see other animals. I’m watching dogs, mostly, and the occasional cat, but it’s the internet, so a capybera makes its way in there from time to time. Often the videos are not dogs seeing each other, exactly, but rather sensing each other.

I’ve always been interested in how glancing works; how a quick look into a mirror at an angle can result in immediate eye contact with another, who is also looking in the mirror. How can our reflections do that!? It’s a survival instinct, I’m told, where the whites of our eyes attract each other very precisely.

I long for the gaze of the two dogs I live with, but sometimes feel uncomfortable when I receive it too intensely. One of my favorite things in life is to see Frannie get wild eyes when he and Shauna are play fighting. I call this his wild child mode and it’s most visible in the ways his eyes dart and roll, tongue out, as Shauna’s little jaws clamp onto his haunches. It is fierce, and cute.


I have never painted, sketched or sculpted a dog. I’ve cared for a ceramic dog that one of my students made—of her boyfriend’s mom’s poodle, a gift for the mom. Someone had been stealing finished pieces out of the studio and I was worried the dog might get taken, so I kept it in my office for the night. Like the dog in the sculpture, Frannie is a poodle with curls you can wind around your finger.

In my own work I wonder a lot about how people see. I wonder this in relationship to the apprehending of land during the ongoing colonizing of regions I live on and with. I am particularly curious about how representations of land get crafted. I look at how the forests, brush, chaparral, cavities, and canyons were presented for others to see and covet. I live in Texas, which has an especially troubled awareness of land’s above and below.


How are resources spotted? When did our eyes begin to contain rulers, drills, scales? The precision of our glances in mirrors suggests that the rulers and protractors have been in us for some time. But their implementation to contain and contort is not inevitable.*

As I try to apprehend what is inside of me, the language of containment and capacity is most accessible. We use vessels as measuring devices. The hyperbolic folds, chambers, and long veins of a body are imaginable, but it’s hard to know all of what they can hold. Psychic creases squeeze and cradle.

Building something in ceramic means consistently remembering shrinkage, as whatever you create will come out of its last kiln firing 10-15% smaller. I think of my fingers and hands as calipers that gauge my wall thickness while constructing.

To make is to measure. To live in a body is to want to know “how much?”

—Anna Mayer

*Carl Beam’s Burying the Ruler (1989), as introduced to me through an ongoing conversation with Jake Dotson and his engagement with Beam’s ideas, is integral to my thinking about measurement.

The Artist

Learn more
Karin Gulbran

Karin Gulbran was born in Seattle, WA, in 1967. She currently lives and works in Los Angeles.

Gulbran’s ceramic sculptures utilize gestural figuration, blending in recurring abstracted motifs inspired by nature, such as leaf and branch shapes, animals and raindrops, resulting in a distinctive painterly, signature imagery. Gulbran developed an unconventional ceramics technique that involves using high-fire glazes to achieve the painterly imagery that has become a signature aspect of her work. This fusion of expressionistic figure painting and ceramics has become the cornerstone of her artistic practice. 

Karin Gulbran received her BFA from the San Francisco Art Institute (1996) and her MFA from University of California, Los Angeles (1999). Over the years, her work has been exhibited from the United States to Europe, in renowned art galleries and institutions. Her work is also part of the Tia Collection in Santa Fe, New Mexico.

Karin Gulbran160 Qd8b NG