Kristen Kieffer is a full time studio potter and Louisville native who lives in Baldwinville, MA with her husband, woodworker Trevor Toney and their doxie, Hannah.
She received her Associate degree from Montgomery College, a BFA with honors from Alfred University and her MFA with honors from Ohio University. Kristen has been an artist in residence and assistant to John Glick, an artist in residence at Arrowmont School of Arts and Crafts, Worcester Center for Crafts, and at Guldagergård, Museum of International Ceramic Art, Skælskør, DK. Her work has been included in many books and publications and is featured in many private and public permanent collections. She has won multiple prizes for her work including the prestigious Zanesville Prize and has served on the Board of Directors of Studio Potter. Kristen is in high demand on the workshop circuit and has taught across the US and Canada.
Kristen’s work is bursting with visual activity. The visual surface of each vessel is activated with multiple layers of imagery. After each piece is thrown and trimmed she begins working on her pieces from the suede, or soft leather hard state allowing for her to manipulate each piece, slightly altering it to create a more voluptuous form. This alteration continues with stamping a debossed image into the form or by laying down delicate patterns in slip. Later layers of white or colored slip may be added to create a raised surface or to add swatches of accent color. This layering of imagery comes together as a uniform surface, each element helping to draw the eye to the next. The cohesiveness of the decoration is a testament to her eye and ability to find harmony in what might appear discordant in another iteration.
Kieffer describes her work as Victorian modern. This is an apt definition. The Victorian era was a time of pulling together many different ideas and movements, both old and new. Drawing from multiple influences; a Victorian silver service, imagery that references the Art Nouveau movement and vintage wallpaper she then ties these seemingly disparate things together with a modern stamp or image that is uniquely her own. The use of a monochromatic glaze palette further unifies the surface decoration with the form of the pot itself. Her work is an invitation to appreciate beauty in embellishment, yet it maintains a firm foothold in traditional vessel making. Each piece is a marriage of elegance and utility. Her two part mug handles illustrate this perfectly; they have a visual elegance and delicacy yet have a robustness and heft that is needed in a piece for daily use.
We are so honored to have Kristen return to her hometown and join us for our second annual Southern Crossings Pottery Festival.
To see more of Kristen’s work visit www.kiefferceramics.com