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The Clay Studio of Missoula Staff

For general inquiries, work pick up, and class enrollment questions, please email
Thank you!

Shalene Valenzuela -  Executive Director

Shalene arrived at the Clay Studio of Missoula in 2007 as an artist-in-residence. She served on the board of directors from 2011-12, and was hired as the Executive Director in 2012. She came to The Clay Studio of Missoula with an extensive amount of experience as an educator, administrator, and artist. 

Shalene received a BA in Art Practice at the University of California at Berkeley and an MFA in Ceramics from California College of Arts and Crafts. For several years in Oakland, she ran a gallery in a cooperative studio space, while working as an administrative assistant for The Consortium for the Arts/Arts Research Center at UC Berkeley (2000-2007). Her teaching experience includes various classes taught at at Flathead Valley Community College, University of Montana, Oregon College of Art and Craft, The Clay Studio of Missoula, Missoula Art Museum, Richmond Art Center, ASUC Studios at UC Berkeley, and California College of Art Extended Education. Shalene has been a guest artist and speaker at a number of art centers, colleges, universities, and conferences. Her ceramic work has been featured in several group and solo exhibitions nationally and is in a number of private and public collections. She has also been a resident artist at the Archie Bray Foundation, LH Project (OR), and Watershed Center for the Ceramic Arts (ME). She was the recipient of the Jessie Wilber and Frances Senska Individual Artist’s Innovation Award from the Montana Arts Council in 2013.

Kelly Seitz - Education and Outreach Coordinator

Kelly is a dedicated educator with a passion for bringing creative thinking to people of all ages, but especially young people. She started out as a Clay Studio UM Summer resident in 2018, stayed on as an intern helping with the outreach program, as well as an instructor for youth programs. Kelly left Missoula to gain more teaching experience in the field, and worked as a K-12 Art Teacher in the town of White Sulphur Springs, Montana for several years before returning to Missoula in 2021. 

Kelly earned a BFA in Ceramics with an endorsement in art education from the University of Montana. She’s been interested in education and nonprofit work since she was very young, and spent much of her teen and early adult life volunteering and working for programs invested in the care of the community and wellbeing of the next generation. Some standout programs she has worked with include the Flagship Program, the Stevens Youth Center, and the ZACC. Making art and creativity accessible to as many young people as possible is one of her goals in life. Kelly is also an emerging artist who works both in ceramics and digital art, and hopes to become a bigger part of the art community in Missoula.

Joseph Pesina - Studio Manager​


Joseph is a ceramic artist form northeast Wisconsin, and most recently  lived in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada before coming to Missoula. Joseph received his BFA from Utah State University and MFA from NSCAD University. He has completed artists residencies at the Clay Studio of Missoula, The Pottery Workshop and Experimental Factory in Jingdezhen, China, and Peninsula School of Art in Fish Creek, WI. Joseph's current work explores themes of vessel abstraction, architecture, geometry, and spatial relationships via the lens of modularity and formalist principles. He is excited that he has returned to Montana’s ceramic community and has enjoyed settling into his role as Studio Manager.

Christina Harrelson - Administrative Coordinator


Christina joined the team at The Clay Studio of Missoula in 2020 after being involved for years.  First, as an Outreach Intern in 2017, Christina helped engage the public with ceramics arts in ways not limited to but including being a certified CATBOT technician and repairs-person.  She has been engaged with the studio as a student, volunteer, studio artist and member.  A woodfire focused potter, she organized the 2019 Ladyfire woodfiring at The Clay Studio of Missoula's anagama kiln. We're excited by the energy, empathy, leadership and organization she is already bringing to The Clay Studio.

Gabs Conway - After School Program Instructor

Gabs Conway is ceramic artist born in the Midwest but grew up in Missoula, MT. Gabs obtained her BFA in Studio Art with a concentration in Ceramics at the University of Wisconsin - Stout. She holds a strong connection with sculpting but has a familiar relationship with wheel throwing and functional pottery. She is a skilled instructor and passionate about teaching youth. Gabs is excited to be teaching for our After School Program in five Missoula County Public Schools for the 2022/23 school year!

Interns at The Clay Studio of Missoula

Andy Bugos (woodfire)

Allison Dennison (studio)

Owen Gauthier (studio)

Shelby Marshall (studio/annex)

Greg Morris (studio)

Julie Shea (studio)

The Clay Studio of Missoula Board of Directors

Jason Neal (President)
Courtney Murphy (Vice President)
Kathie Dewitt (Treasurer)
Richard Smith (Secretary)

Susan Carlson

Liz Dybdal
James Heath
Trey Hill
Mike Kurz 
Cathryn Mallory

John Paoli

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