King County Administration Building
This architectural ceramic mural is a celebrated artist’s masterpiece.
Throughout his career, sculptor Robert Sperry pushed the boundaries of what ceramics could be. His ambition and interest in experimentation are evident in Untitled #625, an 11-foot by 30-foot unified mural and Sperry’s largest-ever artwork. The piece, currently located in the 4th Avenue lobby of the King County Administration Building, was made using an easel Sperry built to hold a grid of 16 black kiln shelves (16-inch ceramic squares), which he worked with as a single canvas. To create the surface design, he splashed and brushed parts of the clay with white slip—liquid clay—that formed a rough, organic texture when fired and was further refined with the application of glazes. The artwork reflects Sperry’s fascination with traditional Japanese kiln firing and the Asian glazes and firing techniques he used to attain his signature crackled surfaces. It was created over a two-year period.
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Sperry (1927–1998) was a professor in the ceramics department at the University of Washington for more than 30 years. He influenced a generation of ceramic artists, encouraging them to experiment and explore the medium. Untitled #625 was commissioned as part of the Honors Program, which recognizes visual artists who have made significant contributions to our region through the sustained production of high-quality artwork. The King County Public Art Collection also includes two of Sperry’s decorative ceramic plates.