Victoria Christen lives in Portland, Oregon, where she is a full-time studio potter. She has been a resident artist at Guldagaard, the International Ceramics Research Center in Denmark and the Archie Bray Foundation, in Montana. She has given many workshops across the United States. Victoria has been the recipient of an NEA Regional Visual Arts Fellowship Award, two Minnesota Arts Board Grants, and a travel grant to Japan. She received an MFA from the University of Minnesota.
I intend my pots to function at several levels, both for myself and the user. First, I strive to make everyday objects for the home, pieces that individuals use in the supposedly mundane activities of their lives. My cups, bowls, cake platters, and containers, I hope, emphasize the beauty and significance of these daily rituals. On another level, I intend my pots to embody my own experiences, attitudes, and values. My work is both thrown and constructed, intuitive and patterned, self conscious and flamboyant—references to my seamstress mother’s use of patterns and tucks to make highly functional creations infused with her own passion; to my father’s work as both a machinist and a maker of folk art; to my own paradoxical desire for both order and freedom; and to my pots as both containers/dispensers of everyday materials and as metaphors for the body as both receiver and giver. While I do not intend others to share in all of these meanings, I hope that the personal level of the work will free users to perceive their own self in these objects.
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.
Process for Surface Treatment:
While the clay is leather hard, I apply a clay slip with a consistency of milk or light cream. The slip is quickly poured on or into the pot to ensure that it does not remain on the surface for a long period of time. The piece is in constant movement during this application, allowing for the slip to curtain and to follow the throwing line of the piece. After this base coat has been applied, I let the pot dry and will not work on it again until it is at the greenware state or bone dry. The next step is to apply small areas of color using the commercial underglazes, glazes and/or oxide washes. After the color dries, I carve into the surface using a variety of tools, needles, wooden sticks, small loop trimming tools, etc., and I apply thin black lines of underglaze to highlight the areas that I want to capture the eye of the user. Finally when this has dried, I lightly sand the surface to eliminate areas where the clay has lifted up from the surface during the carving (being sure, of course, that I am wearing a mask and in a well ventilated area). To suggest the passage of time and the knitting of form and surface, i also remove some of the slip, revealing some of the red clay in the body of the form.