Kristen Jensen

Some Thoughts

Fascinated by what seems to be almost a functional role similar to a puff pillow chair or a sofa in supporting her ceramics, we asked Kristen Jensen about her soft sculptures. She replied with some thoughts.

The increase in scale of my ceramic forms led me to start creating soft sculptures that literally and metaphorically offer support. They show the physical weight of the ceramic object that they hold, but not without significant effort and distortion to the originally intended form. Using a combination of new and used textiles, I aim to make memorials to lived experience with the soft sculptures. The resulting juxtapositions of ceramic and fabric function as casual monuments.

I make containers that metaphorically represent the emotional and psychological complexities of my experience through a combination of hand built ceramics and fabric sculptures made from used textiles. The complexities find form through my use of unpredictable elements such as local clays and variables like atmospheric firing methods. These processes become collaborators in the ceramic vessels, often upending my intentions. The results are cradled in fabric forms with traces of wear and history, creating an invitation for viewers to memorialize their own lived experiences.

This body of work titled “Warms” began with two collections: the first used light colored bath towels, initially scavenged from home and from friends, and eventually from strangers. The second collection of used heated pads was acquired online from ebay and craigslist. Both collections were born from my fascination with worn material, both visually and conceptually, and are materials/objects used intimately and privately by a few people at most. While most of the towels started out white, most had acquired a patina from use that was a far cry from their original condition. Upon my request for these, one friend threw six towels left behind by an ex lover in a box (unfolded) and shipped them to me. The cloth covers of the heating pads were often very worn, some parts pilled and faded from years of use, but in most cases the heating elements still worked. Though I was initially most taken with the cloth coverings, and collected them for the explicit purpose of using this part of the object in sculptures, as the collection grew, and I tested each heating pad, it became clear that it was the heating elements and the idea of warmth I wanted to use from these objects, not the exterior material. Before deconstructing each heating pad however, I took their "portrait" with a film camera to document their original state: a document of use and care.

Shallow vessels imply ritualistic function. They privilege the interior over the exterior of the object, exposing what might normally be hidden or obscured.