The Navigator

The Navigator
Kristen Cliffel
Born 1967
Acquisition Number: 2020.9
Medium: Low fire clay, glaze, gold luster, wood, and resin
Size: 20 x 36 x 17 in.
Date: 2019


Didactic: Kristen Cliffel is a sculptor currently active in Cleveland, Ohio. Her ceramic works focus on domesticity and raising a family and are pulled from her own experiences as a wife and mother. In her pieces you will commonly see crowns, animals, flowers, and other imagery that has a fairy tale quality to it. Cliffel's pieces use these fairy tale settings as the vehicles to express her life's stories because she believes that our culture surrounds us with impossible fairy tale expectations. She also uses fairy tale imagery to address serious, heavy topics in a lighthearted manner. She says: "Creating artwork is the way that I express my questions, concerns, and hopes for the future. Being a wife and mother, I find myself wedged into roles that both trouble and delight me. Developing visual narratives helps me understand some of the mixed emotions I navigate through on a daily basis." Cliffel graduated form the Cleveland Institute of Art in 1990 with a BFA in Ceramics, and has completed residencies at The Banff Centre in Alberta, Canada, and the Kohler Company in Wisconsin. Kristen has given workshops at the Penland School of Crafts as well as Anderson Ranch Arts Center and the John Michael Kohler Arts Center. She has been awarded a Creative Workforce Fellowship from the Cuyahoga Partnership for Arts and Culture, has received several Ohio Arts Council Individual Artist Fellowships, and has taught ceramics in Wisconsin, Colorado, and Ohio. In 2016, Cliffel was awarded the Cleveland Arts Prize for mid-career artist in the visual arts. Cliffel currently teaches sculpture and ceramics at a grade school in Ohio, as well as giving workshops at universities and colleges across the country. Her work is in numerous collections, including the Akron Art Museum in Ohio, San Angelo Museum of Fine Arts in Texas, and Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art in Arizona, among others.