Red Lodge Clay Center – Short-Term Resident 2022, (AIA) 2022, ASPN Mentor 2023
A native of Eastern Montana, Victoria Christen earned an MFA in Ceramics from the University of Minnesota. She has taught Ceramics at Macalester College, Knox College, Lewis and Clark College and the University of Portland, and she has exhibited her work and given workshops across the United States and internationally. Living in Portland, Oregon for over two decades, Victoria works in a variety of media, including functional and sculptural ceramics, mixed-media sculpture, and fibers. She has been a resident artist at the International Ceramics Research Center in Guldagaard, Denmark, the Archie Bray Foundation in Helena, Montana, Watershed Center for the Ceramic Arts in Edgecomb, Maine, and the Red Lodge Clay Center in Red Lodge, Montana. Victoria has received an NEA Regional Visual Arts Fellowship Award, two Minnesota Arts Board Grants, and a travel grant to Japan.
I have been influenced by a variety of factors, including my family traditions and my physical environment. I come from a tradition of seamstresses. As a young girl, my grandmother designed and sewed clothing for families at neighboring homesteads. My grandmother’s skills passed to my mother, who sewed all our family clothes, and then to myself. As a ceramic artist, my process is not so different than that of my mother and grandmother. Like them, I transform my ideas into patterns cutting, folding, and joining various pieces to create a physical object.
The Badlands of Eastern Montana where I grew up have also influenced me as an artist. The landforms in Makoshika State Park near my home are rugged yet delicate full of unique shapes and colors that are ever changing with the passing sun, clouds, and season. It has influenced my love of color and of dramatic form.
In both earthenware and porcelain, I construct my pieces using components that have been thrown on the wheel. I put various components together loosely to make my pieces appear spontaneous and effortless, yet controlled.
Building on the themes of tradition and connection I will often make fabric mats for some of my ceramic pieces. The softness and pliability of fabric pairs well with ceramics, recalling the original state of the material and mollifying its kiln-fired hardness. The warmth and projection of fabric echoes the ceramic object’s connection to friendship and contentment.