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The Clay Studio


Undercurrents: A Selection of Contemporary Nordic Ceramics

February 5 through March 27, 2016

Participating Artists:

Kristina Riska (Finland), Hilda Hellstrom (Sweden), Marit Tingleff (Norway), Louise Birch (Denmark), Christin Johansson (Denmark), and Kjell Rylander(Sweden)

HIlda Hellstrom is also our current Guest Artist in Residence.  Learn more HERE.

Just as undercurrents flow beneath the surface, independently, yet part of the same bodies of water, Undercurrents celebrates contemporary Nordic culture that is both individual yet rooted in deep and proud traditions. The work exhibits influences of traditional Scandinavian Modernism as well as personal and contemporary themes.  Conceived by TCS Resident Pauliina Pollanen, the purpose of Undercurrents is to introduce our audience to a wide range of the innovative ceramic art being made in the Nordic region. From the work of Kristina Riska, who is engaged in both the sculpture and design worlds, to Christin Johansson, whose work is conceptual and often video based. Each of the participating artists is engaged in a shared history through the lens of contemporary practices.


A goal of Undercurrents is to raise the profile of Nordic ceramics in the U.S. and to highlight Nordic cultural heritage more broadly. Undercurrents is an opportunity for these artists to exhibit abroad, create an exchange of concepts and ideas, and establish dialogue and connections for future cross-cultural collaborations.

"Figurative ceramics primarily makes up the framework of my stories, but recently I have rediscovered an old interest in drawing and image making.
My work is inspired by illustration, philosophy, humor, mysticism, contemporary popculture, C.G. Jung's concepts of the collective unconsious, and by my own experiences in the world. Just to name a few..
My stories take shape in a constant dialogue with the material of choise – a dialogue where sensuousness and intuition contribute on equal terms as the intellect." - Louise Birch.


She carries a deep secret. Porcelain is her healing substance and a symbol of the cycle of life. She carries a strong feeling from a time past in Dresden and Meissen. She carries the memories against her chest in the exact same spot from where energy once flowed freely. It’s time to let go, but is it possible when the intuition is so powerful and so clear? She senses the will of the porcelain with her fullest attention. She is determined and ready to undergo the transformation that is required.  - Christin Johansson

Kristina Riska first endeavored upon ceramic artistry as a student at the Department of Ceramic Art at the University of Art and Design, Finland in the 1980s. Defying the typical output of the student body, namely articles of pottery made for daily use, Riska instead took a vigorous, physical approach to her work. She would, as she does now, begin to conceptualize her works on paper, her designs ultimately coming to fruition spontaneously as she worked. She prioritized artistry above functionality and despite the demanding and time-consuming process she engaged in, her impressive yield was that of unique ceramic works that transcended the boundaries of art and design.  - Hostler Burrows Gallery

Marit Tingleff is internationally renowned as one of Norway’s greatest contemporary ceramic artists.  Marit uses the landscape of her own daily life as a starting point for her large-scale ceramic plates. She takes ordinary, everyday, functional objects and elevates them to something much more powerful. Her large ce­ramic works are first mod­elled hor­i­zon­tally. Next, while still wet, they are raised to a more up­right       po­si­tion with the help of large cus­tom-made walls to counter the impact of gravity which would otherwise make the wet clay sag. Grav­ity also plays a role in how she further de­vel­op­s the works. Marit pours colour from the top of a work and lets it run down the sur­face to form random lines and pat­terns.  - Taste Contemporary Craft

Kjell Rylander


Hilda Hellstrom

Ms. Hellstrom is our current Guest Artist, learn more about her HERE

Lis Ehrenreich's jar forms, the nature of the clay, and the decoration of the wheel-thrown jar, begin as a flat geometric pattern, and moves towards the low relief decoration, and finally moves toward the casted jar, in which the relief is the essence of the jar: the relief defines the structure of the glaze. These conditions are what develop a variety of white. This series is an exploration which shows the possibilities of the glazes in the various forms of the jar, represented by the ”Albarello” (the waisted pharmacie jar) representing many shapes: tall and low, thick and slim, very much in comparison to my casted forms.


Please contact Curator Jennifer Zwilling with any purchase inquiries at jzwilling@theclaystudio.org or 215-925-3453 x18.

Christin Johansson
The Purification of Her Porcelain Spirit, 2013, video installation

Kjell Rylander
Untitled, 2013

Kristina Riska
Bubble Urn III, Ceramic, 14" x 14" x 55", 2015, $32,000

Kristina Riska
Bodypart VIII, Ceramic, 32" x 28" x 28", 2015, $24,000

Lis Ehrenreich
Albarello Jar 3,, Stoneware, 11" x 4" x 4", 2013, $900.

Lis Ehrenreich
Albarello Jar 12, Stoneware, 7" x 10" x 10", 2014, $2100.

Lis Ehrenreich
Albarello Jar 4, Stoneware, 24" x 8" x 8", 2014, $3950

Louise Birch
Nameless Installation (Stille Series), detail, 2014, $9000

Marit Tingleff
Blatt Landskap (Blue Landscape) No. 9 (Light Blue), Earthenware, slip, 27.5" diameter, 2012, $2800.

Marit Tingleff
Blatt Landskap (Blue Landscape) No. 3 (Dark Blue),, Earthenware, slip, 27.5" diameter, 2012, $2800.