Jennifer Allen – Red Lodge Clay Center

Jennifer AllenMorgantown, West Virginia

Red Lodge Clay Center, Short-Term Resident 2012, Workshop Presenter 2022

Jennifer received her BFA from the University of Alaska Anchorage in 2002 and an MFA from Indiana University in 2006. In addition to a formal education, she worked full time as a studio assistant for Bliss Pottery from 1998 to 2002. For post baccalaureate study, Jennifer attended Rochester Institute of Technology’s School for American Crafts.
Following graduate school, Jennifer was awarded the 2006-2007 Taunt Fellowship at the Archie Bray Foundation. During the 2008 NCECA Conference, she was recognized as an emerging artist. Among other awards, Jennifer was named the 2008 Myer Fellow Resident Artist at West Virginia University in Morgantown, WV. She currently teaches part time at West Virginia University and keeps a personal studio. Her work is represented nationally including The Clay Studio in Philadelphia, PA, Northern Clay Center in Minneapolis, MN and Red Lodge Clay Center in Red Lodge, MT.

Each pot I create is meant to evoke sentiments of beauty, cheer, thoughtfulness and usefulness. Whether forming a vase that decorates a room or dinnerware that celebrates a meal, my work is made to honor and enhance the rhythms of home life. Driven to create pieces for special occasions, I visualize the holiday table brimming with food, flowers and candlelight. Abundant color, curvilinear lines and floral patterning reinforce feelings of merriment associated with festive occasions. While I enjoy the vibrant energy encircling the holiday gathering, I find the contemplative moments sipping a morning cup of coffee equally as invigorating. My work is intended to live in these instances of physical and psychological nourishment.
After living in the mountains of Alaska, Montana and West Virginia, I remain fascinated by the beauty and mystery of natural landscapes. From the breathtaking aurora borealis and mid-winter alpenglow in the Alaskan wilderness, to the drama of spring flora and the intensity of the Appalachian autumn, nature never ceases to inspire. My desire is to translate these sensations of joy I experience from nature into forms, patterns and textures.
Porcelain provides the perfect foundation for my work. It inherently nods to notions of “fine china” pulled out of the china cabinet during special occasions. Instead of treating porcelain like a thin and delicate medium, though, I give it weight and substance akin to stoneware crockery. Both 14th Century British Medieval pottery and 18th Century English porcelain influence the silhouettes of my work, while the details are informed by the craft of a seamstress. Suggestions of folds, seams, darts, pleats, tufts and ruffles highlight the processes of making and reflect my love of sewing.
The decorated portion on each piece activates areas of the form that are the least visually active. For inspiration, I gather surface imagery from a variety of sources including post WWII textiles, Arts and Crafts Era designs and Edo period kimono fabrics. While this decorated area is filled with pattern, color and texture, the remainder of the piece is blanketed with a single glaze. The glazes I choose break over edges and pool into recesses thereby accentuating the construction of the form underneath.
Determined to keep “handmade” an essential part of the contemporary home, my ongoing focus is to reinforce personal sentiments of beauty, joy, nourishment and celebration through porcelain tableware. Whether it’s a festive meal shared by many or a cup of hot cocoa indulged by one, I remain motivated by moments when pottery is in use. By making thoughtful, useful handcrafted pottery for the domestic landscape, I am inspired to enhance the home, engage the hand, and nourish the spirit.