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Photograph of the artist Ursula Hargens sitting at a pottery wheel in a studio
Ursula Hargens

Ursula Hargens uses flora to investigate themes of loss, shifting landscapes, and ecological change. Our impact on the environment and declining biodiversity can be difficult to comprehend in the abstract, but focusing on an endangered forest wildflower can evoke an intimate sense of loss. Recently, she approached environmental change through a scientific lens, using data visualization techniques to inform the surface design of ceramic pots. Data points became decorative marks that used the language of line, color, and form to record the impacts of human activity.

 While in residence at the CBS Conservatory, she created four large ceramic tiles, highlighting plants from each of the Conservatory’s biomes. The tiles are permanently installed in the building’s lobby, welcoming visitors into the space. She spent time drawing, photographing, and researching specific plants in the collection, creating compositions intended to illustrate and capture the character of each biome.

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 Education from Columbia University, and studied ceramics at Nova Scotia College of Art & Design. She is a long-time educator, teaching at institutions across the state and co-founding the Minnesota New Institute for Ceramic Education, an advanced certificate program in ceramics. She is a three-time McKnight Artist Fellow and has received grants from the Center for Craft, the Jerome Foundation, and the Minnesota State Arts Board. She was also named 2020 Ceramic Artist of the Year by Ceramics Monthly and Pottery Making Illustrated.

Learn more about Ursula’s work at or on Instagram @ursulahargensceramics

Photograph of a white ceramic tile painted with green buckthorn leaves and dark fruits.