Ideas move in, become entangled with other ideas, "and there's kind of this resulting beautiful array."
Some of the results -- more than 100 pieces, many containing references to Christenson's cross-cultural experiences, her domestic environment and the natural world -- are on display at the
Christenson, who began teaching at WSU in 1990, retired from the university in 2012. She's been using clay to make art for more than 50 years.
While the exhibition includes a sampling of Christenson's early work, the bulk of it is more recent, Hardesty said. The show includes "intimate" semi-functional pieces -- bowls, mugs, teapots -- along with sculptural vessels and larger-scale sculptural works combining steel and clay.
Some five decades later, she said, "it's surprising how much of the initial interests and influences remain."
She's long been interested in the idea of the vessel -- what it stands for, how people have used it to express ideas about the natural and design worlds. She's still more interested in the decorative tradition related to clay -- ornamentation and elaboration of space -- than the functional one.
And she's long been combining steel and clay, the interaction between organic clay and industrial steel opening the door to metaphor.
The WSU show also includes photos of a large-scale sundial Christenson created for a courtyard on the University of
Christenson made the first of several trips to
While Christenson created some work in
After the conference, she helped set up an exchange program with artists in
Hockenhull said Christenson is a master of materials and has a sense of form that seems entirely intuitive.
"She can make clay look like lace and steel look like fluffy, wind-blown curtains," Hockenhull said. "She just bends her material to her will."
Hockenhull, who now lives in Salem, said Christenson's work is built of multiple layers.
"She pulls together a lot of subject matter -- it's not always imagery, but sometimes it is -- and layers these elements on top of each other," Hockenhull said. "It's sort of like the way life is. As you get experience, as you go through a process, one thing is put on top of another on top of another on top of another. And she does that in her work."
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