Current Residents


Crista Ann Ames

Crista Ann AmesCrista Ames workCrista attended Washington State University where she obtained her BFA in Ceramics with a minor in Art History. She attended Utah State University for Post Baccalaureate studies in Ceramics, and completed the MFA program at the University of Montana in 2015. She was at the Archie Bray Foundation for a summer resdiency in summer 2015.

I am a sculptor who works primarily in ceramics and textiles. I find that the integration of both permanent and impermanent materials conveys my interest in approaches to memory, loss and transformation. Just as the act of remembering transforms an experience into something different, time degrades some elements and leaves others to endure. Through the layering of mythology, iconography and personal narrative, my work explores how our own animal nature relates to the ways we establish and sustain personal relationships. I draw on my own experiences to explore pastoral life, animal husbandry, womenís craft and fertility. In bridging the gap between myth and experience, I utilize my artistic practice to create altogether new stories that tell contemporary tales of trauma, joy and womanhood.


Andrew Avakian

Andrew AvakianAndrew AvakianAndrew received a BFA in ceramics from Western
Carolina University, and spent two years studying ceramics at the University of Florida as a post baccalaureate. He has been a resident artist at Cub Creek Foundation for the Ceramic Arts, and at Odyssey Clayworks. In 2015 he moved to Missoula and was the gallery assistant at the Clay Studio of Missoula through summer 2016.

My hand built terra cotta vessels bring the richness of public architectural form into homes and individual, intimate environments. Architecture, design, abstract painting and color theory are some current ideas driving my work. Ornamentation, pattern, textures, and contrasts result from the use of different materials in building. These play a role in the layering form, texture and color in my work. Underglaze colors, terra sigillata, glazes and sandblasting add depth and a sense of passing time, age and experience.

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Chris Drobnock

Chris Drobnock workChris DrobnockChris Drobnock began his ceramics studies at Juniata College (PA). He received his BFA with a dual concentration in Ceramics and
Printmaking at Edinboro University of Pennsylvania and has worked as both a Studio/Lab Technician and an independent studio potter and sculptor in Pennsylvania. Chris recently completed his MFA at University of Arkansas, Fayetteville.

I have been investigating and making based on the idea that all objects, all things, have a preconceived understanding of object use that is culturally imprinted in our psyche; into our subconscious or even deeper our subliminal mind. The sculpture presented references the mundane, the profane, things that we come in contact with on a daily basis. These objects have been taken for granted, but in focusing on presenting these things a rarified sense of awareness is given to them. By fabricating them they become symbolic or iconic, immediately understood as having a direct purpose or referencing specific action. Functionality is a truth, historically and ultimately assumed or pronounced utility objects that, collectively, we have faith in. The clay material is of the physical world and records touch as it is handled. Color choice and formal decisions are playful and methodical, used to mimic blurry vision in the periphery of our point-of-view or to react to the thought that the everyday object might exist like a John Cage-style of ‘silence,’ that nothing is ordinary; that nothing is, in fact, sacred.

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Elisha Harteis

Elisha Harteis workElisha HarteisElisha was born in Butte, Montana, but shortly after, her family moved to Missoula. She attended Sentinel High School and was encouraged to develop her skills in Drawing and Photography.
Elisha received and BFA in ceramics from the University of Montana in 2015. In 2016, she was a short term resident at Red Lodge Clay Center and a studio assitant at Arrowmount School of Arts and Craft. She is teaches art at in her own business, Mud Bunneh Ceramics, and in programs with elementary and middle school age kids in Missoula Public Schools, the Missoula Art Museum, and the Clay Studio of Missoula. She is part of the VonCommon Artist Collective in Missoula, and is currently a short term resident at the Clay Studio of Missoula.

The work that I am most passionate about focuses on depictions of children and animals. In this work, I address the social issues of child abuse by juxtaposing the quiet brutality of abuse against the perceived, inherent innocence of children. The familiarity of the narrative context challenges the viewer, creating an unsettling relationship between the audience and the figures. The space between the viewer and figure directly challenges the silence about such issues and, hopefully, calls attention to the myriad of societal issues that we tend to not acknowledge in our daily lives.

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Kirk Jackson

Miriam GriffinKirk JacksonKirk Jackson discovered clay while studying at The Ohio State University. While pursuing his BFA, Kirk had the opportunity to spend a semester in Jingdezhen, China. After completing his BFA, he worked as Studio Manager at Watershed, participated in the Working Artist Program at Longwood University, and was a
Resident Artist as well as instructor at Seward Park Clay Studio (WA). Prior to coming to the Clay Studio of Missoula, Kirk was a long-term resident at the Red Lodge Clay Center (2014-2016).

As a maker, I revel in the collections of objects and possessions people choose to surround themselves with and the rituals and intimate experiences that are generated by those articles. Objects used for the daily cup of coffee or the annual social gathering with family and friends can express much about the individual. For me, I have an internal need to control and organize the things around me. This desire navigates my aspiration to master the ceramic process.

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Joshua Kuensting

Joshua KuenstingJoshua Kuensting workJoshua received a BA in Psychology University of Missouri-Columbia and was a Core Artist in the Fellowship Program at Penland School of Crafts. Joshua received his MFA in ceramics at Utah State University, Logan, where he was awarded a number of fellowships and was named Graduate Student Teacher of the Year. From July 2015-June 2016, Joshua was a studio tech and instructor at Winthrop University (SC).

 Drawing inspiration from the works of contemporary studio potters who were influenced by historic Asian ceramics, I work within a catalog of forms that are designed to serve food and drink. I design my pottery forms so that they will create an engaging landscape on the table. My work evolves steadily through thoughtful making in the studio. In my work I explore the power and beauty found in simplicity. Making simple pots will always be a worthy challenge for me because in order for a simple pot to be successful, many subtle nuances must coexist amicably. I create the soft, approachable matte surfaces I want my pots to have by applying slips or leaving the clay raw and firing my work in atmospheric kilns. I employ the potter's wheel and simple press molds so that my pieces do not feel sterile or overly mechanical. The touch of the hand is present in my finished pieces.

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Michael McCollough - University of Montana Summer Resident

Michael McColloughMichael McCollough workMichael recently received a BS in Wildlife Biology at University of Montana and will be returning to UM School of Art this Fall as a Postbaccalaureate student focusing on developing his ceramic work. He began throwing pots in high school and returned to the wheel later in his undergraduate career. His experience with the ceramics faculty at UM left him "wanting nothing more but to continue working in the field of ceramics."


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