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St. Theresa

1979 Elena Karina Born: Tientsin, China 1936 glazed porcelain 9 x 14 in. (22.9 x 35.5 cm) diam. Smithsonian American Art Museum Museum purchase 1980.99 Smithsonian American Art Museum
Luce Foundation Center, 4th Floor, 53A

Luce Center Quote

"I am really interested in the manipulation of certain shapes—which I think of as my alphabet—it’s a kind of vocabulary of shapes I have built up: the clusters of cones, the fan shapes, the bulbous pearl, crescents . . . I like to play with them, to combine and recombine them . . . pushing a certain gesture until I have pushed it as far as it will go." The artist, quoted in Elena Karina: New Porcelain Vessels & Drawings, Everson Museum of Art, 1979

Luce Center Label

Elena Karina used a variety of techniques such as casting, carving, and impressing the clay to create porcelain sculptures that simulate the marine life found in the tide pools on California beaches. She bisque fired each piece first, which changes the clay into a ceramic material and allows for the addition of stains and underglazes without risk of damaging the object during the higher temperature glaze firing. In St. Theresa, the undulating exterior paired with the threateningly sharp interior creates the illusion of a creature emerging from its home in a bed of coral. While the origin of the title of this piece is unclear, Karina once explained how she names her sculptures: "I make the pieces first and the title comes later. Each piece has a definite character, so I try to choose a name that fits." (Elena Karina: New Porcelain Vessels & Drawings, Everson Museum of Art, 1979)


decorative arts - ceramic

Crafts - Clay

ceramic - porcelain

About Elena Karina

Born: Tientsin, China 1936