The Hippo


May 26, 2020








“Re.covered.” Courtesy photo.

See “Natural Wonder”

Where: Museum of Art, University of New Hampshire, Paul Creative Arts Center, 30 Academic Way, Durham
What: The exhibition, curated by gallery director Kristina L. Durocher, features artwork by Christina Pitsch, Shelley Reed, Rick Schaefer and Randal Thurston that reinterprets visual and literary symbolism in material culture, in reference to humankind’s complex relationship with nature.
Contact: 862-3712,,

Under the radar
Christina Pitsch on residencies, working and laying down roots

By Kelly Sennott

 New Hampshire sculptor and mixed media artist Christina Pitsch has traveled all over the world for artist residencies, her most recent being a three-month stint at the European Ceramic Workcentre in the Netherlands.

That art center was located near bucolic farms and a German nature preserve, and while she was there, she experimented with and modified her technical process.
Pitsch has spent a lot of time away from home the past several years — other recent residences were at the Clay Studio in Philadelphia and the New Art Center in Newton, Mass. But her home space is here in Manchester, within a warehouse next to Club ManchVegas. 
“I tend to fly a little bit under the radar in Manchester. Most of my work is elsewhere. I’ve actually been in and out of the area for quite some time, but I don’t know a lot of people in the area, believe it or not,” Pitsch said.
But that’s about to change. Pitsch has finally decided to settle in for a little bit — or, at least for six months. When she arrived home in December, she began prepping for a group show at the University of New Hampshire in Durham: “Natural Wonder,” on view now through April 3. She participates in another exhibition in Boston this fall.
“I’ve made a commitment to start showing a little bit more in the area. That’s when I joined a gallery in Boston, to lay down a bit more roots,” Pitsch said. “This has turned into a nice home base for me because I do tend to show in a lot of different places, and I like to travel a fair amount for my work, but Manchester gives me a home base that’s close to friends and family. … And for what I do and the amount of materials I work with and the kind of square footage I need for mocking up installations, it’s really hard to be in a place like New York or Boston.”
At the time of her interview, Pitsch was in the process of unpacking crates and readying for an in-studio, behind-the-scenes tour of her workspace on Wednesday, Feb. 24, for the UNH exhibition. 
The results of her residency work were scattered on tabletops and shelving, but most were in crates. Tour participants will see hers isn’t an organized, clean art-making process, but she’s learned to embrace it.
“Sometimes it’s not pretty, and that’s totally OK,” Pitsch said. “The studio’s a funny place. I’ve had a lot of people come to my workspace over the past couple years, and they expect it to look like a museum or a gallery.”
Much of Pitsch’s artwork is like sculptural collage, made with found objects — except that most of the objects aren’t really found, but cast in porcelain, plastic or plexiglass, made to look like those original objects. She utilizes myriad techniques to pull it all together, including ceramics and printmaking. 
“One of my friends who was in my studio last year — we were looking to get ready for a show — said, ‘You’re kind of like an assemblage artist, but all the parts you make yourself,’” Pitsch said.
Which, she agreed, is pretty accurate. The art is the combination of those pieces, which, more recently, have commented on gender dynamics and cultural iconography. 
“Natural Wonder” has four of her pieces on display, and one, “Re.covered,” is a taxidermied deer head with a sewn vinyl slipcover on top and porcelain birds adorning its antlers. It’s all set against a gigantic doily.
“It’s enormous. It’s meant to be ridiculous, and it is. It’s like six feet wide,” Pitsch said.
Another piece is a hanging chandelier that, instead of candles, holds porcelain deer hooves.
“That’s very much about … objects we fetishize, like the rabbit’s foot,” Pitsch said. “I remember as a kid loving those, and I knew they were real, but I was never processing how totally grisly it is.”
She began delving into these ideas while in grad school in upstate New York, a rural area infused with a hunting culture and, oftentimes, a stereotypical gender divide. 
“I had a truck at the time, and everywhere I would go, people would say, ‘Oh what a big truck,’ or, ‘Your boyfriend’s truck is so nice.’ There was this assumption that an object has that association,” Pitsch said.
An upcoming project, still in development, features a gigantic wall of assembled chinoiserie, using porcelain cast cardboard and artificial flowers, an “intersection of highbrow and lowbrow.” When completed, it will be an interconnected series of tiles that will go up in Boston this September.
“Sometimes there are people I meet and they think of my work being more abstract, but I deal with a lot of representational imagery, and I’m always hoping to tweak it and combine it in some ways, but it’s often born out of these very concrete reference points,” Pitsch said. “I’m constantly looking at the world around me — the things that happen, the stories I respond to, historical things that interest me. And this is my way of telling new stories.” 

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