Ursula Hargens

Artist Statement

I love pots and and ceramic history and am curious about how the objects we create stand as a record of our cultural values. I began covering my pottery forms in flowers to reclaim a language of decoration. Flowers blossom, compete, and sometimes unite as they traverse my vessels, creating a dialogue between form and surface. They are part of an ongoing conversation about embedded values, neglected vs. celebrated histories, and the transformative role functional objects can play in communities.My work has shifted over the past decade as the public debate around environmental justice has come into sharper focus, and I have become increasingly invested in these issues. I have moved from purely symbolic language to using flora to investigate themes of loss, shifting landscapes, and environmental change. Our impact on the environment and declining biodiversity can be difficult to comprehend in the abstract, but focusing attention on an endangered, forest wildflower can evoke an intimate sense of loss. Most recently, I approached environmental change through a scientific lens, using data visualization techniques to inform the surface design. Data points become decorative marks that use the language of line, color, and form to record the impacts of human activity.


Ursula Hargens is a ceramic artist and educator based in Minneapolis. She received an MFA from the New York State College of Ceramics at Alfred University; an MA in Art & Art Education from Columbia University, Teachers College; and studied ceramics at Nova Scotia College of Art & Design. She is a three-time McKnight Artist Fellow, has received awards from the Jerome Foundation and the Minnesota State Arts Board, and was named 2020 Ceramic Artist of the Year by Ceramics Monthly and Pottery Making Illustrated. Ursula has been a teaching artist for many years and is co-founder and Program Head of Minnesota New Institute for Ceramic Education (MN NICE), an advanced certificate program in ceramics, developed in 2014 in partnership with Northern Clay Center.