Nicholas Lenker

Resident Artist - Past

Residence Time: 2016-

Currently I am working on a project dealing with identity within the digital.

It is all very surface. These glimpses into others lives that are not exactly real, not exactly false. What is between his screen and mine?

I imagined a void between that space, something was there and it could enter our personal space through our screens and take from us. It has no identity of its own, it is skinless and faceless, so it steals from others to create its own. It does this through interaction with a screen.

I want to explore my own formation of identity within this project. The skinless being will enter the worlds of people I have taken parts of my own identity from and steal things from them. These will be short videos reflective of my relationship with these individuals and the objects will be symbols of the aspects of their self I personally have absorbed into my identity.

With the ceramics, I am replicating the digital objects in the physical world and vice versa. I want them to be between here and there. I cover them with digital skins of what they are constructing with images from online image searches and adding lighting to make them appear natural. I believe that there is an attempt through this handmade recreation to force a more intimate experience of the digital.



Born 1982 in Sunbury, Pennsylvania

A disfellowshipped Jehovah’s Witness, an apocalyptic religion, Lenker explores concepts of creative destruction stemming from this experience. In the apocalypse, the world will be destroyed but in that destruction a place for a new world is created. Destruction is an ending but it is also the beginning. Lenker is interested in that space of potential transformation and new life.

Lenker works as the Preparator and Graphic Designer for Wexler as well as studio assistant for visual artist Virgil Marti. He has exhibited solo projects in both Philadelphia and New York and has shown in group shows both nationally and internationally.

Lenker holds a MFA from Tyler School of Art and a BFA from The University of the Arts.

Q + A

Why exactly did you want to be a resident at TCS?

It is a nationally recognized residency program.  I wanted to introduce my work to The Clay Studio's audience and the larger ceramics community. 

Has your art changed since being a resident at TCS?

I would say my practice has become more consistent.  Before coming to The Clay Studio I was piecing together a studio from access to school's facilities I was teaching at.  I can consistently make in the space which has felt like a luxury. 

Tell me how you develop concepts or creative ideas?

I will typically start a large project with an outline that I add to over the course of a few months. The works are narrative or process based occurring over time so it is a lot like laying out a piece of writing.  I lay out the project in as great detail as possible, including all of the references, layers of meaning, and influences going into the images I'm creating. This way I can be efficient when executing the work. This also gives me a fertile starting point,  things always change but the underlying structure of the project comes from that outline. 

What's the most memorable moment that has happened to you here as a resident?

It would have to be giving the emerging artist talk at NCECA.  Speaking in front of that many people really burns a hole in your brain! 

How do you like being in Philadelphia?

I've lived in Philadelphia since 2001.  There is a good community of artists here and the space is still relatively cheap to rent studio space.

What's your favorite food?

I don't always like food.  It is a never ending chore to relieve our hunger.  I sometimes wish it was optional.  I don't think I could choose a food, but my favorite meals always happen after a lot of physical exertion.