craft award chr
Tim Christensen

The Maine Crafts Association has named ceramic artist, author and arts educator Tim Christensen as a recipient of the 2023 Maine Craft Artist Award. The award recognizes Christensen’s accomplishments as a full-time ceramic artist whose work is distinctly recognized for its singular voice and style. 

Since 2009 the Maine Crafts Association began to annually honor individual Maine craft artists in recognition of their exceptional bodies of work and contributions to the field. The award grants acknowledgment of the artist’s work, a distinguishing mark of excellence. 

The award’s juror is guided by these benchmarks: excellence in craftsmanship, inspired design, a singular voice or style, and a career of service to the field. The 2023 awards were selected from many deserving peer nominations by author and champion of Maine artists, Carl Little. 

“Watching a video showing Christensen etching a stoneware Atlantic halibut or throwing a wide bowl using a kick wheel is to be amazed by his deft hand,” Little says. “His wood-fired porcelain pieces with sgraffito are uniformly brilliant, be it an elaborate octopus sculpture or a pictorial plate. Sgraffito comes from the Italian “to scratch,” which hardly does justice to Christensen’s intricate designs. Yes, he scratches the surface, but that’s only one piece of his virtuoso practice.”

Christensen is known for his anomalous use of sgraffito on porcelain creating both functional pottery and decorative sculptures. Black and white, and fired in salt and woodfired kilns, his work is simultaneously intricate while taking on “happy accidents” from the firing process. 

The artist depicts ecosystems and their lively players, interconnecting with one another. His work is informed by his surroundings at his off-the-grid home studio and his extensive travels. His cast of schooling trout, chickadees, and patterned squids dance against their environments creating playful imagery out of the clay surface. His pictorial etchings wrap the surfaces of yunomi cups, animal sculptures, tiles and hand-thrown forms.  

His work has been included in many group and solo exhibitions across the United States and beyond. In addition to his years of building a well-recognized personal style, Christensen is known for his dedication to providing arts education to local Maine communities. His long-time association with Watershed Center for Ceramic Arts, the Maine Crafts Association, and several schools, Christensen has developed endless workshops and courses to further the longevity of ceramics here in Maine. He has developed curriculum for and taught for years in both public and private schools bringing the importance of the arts to a future generation. 

On behalf of the MCA, Little has also selected metalsmith and arts administrator Ellen Wieske of Deer Isle as a 2023 Maine Craft Artist Award recipient. 

Both Wieske and Christensen will be honored at the annual awards presentation and ceremony to be held in December. The public is welcome to join in celebrating the lives and careers of the awardees whose work has positively impacted Maine’s most cherished craft community. Details of the presentation and event registration will be announced at a later date.

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