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"Snow Goggles" are part of "Artifact" by Kirsten Olson on exhibit at The Gallery at JNStudios through Dec. 29.

The creative community of Carlisle has welcomed a new venue dedicated to the visual and performing arts in the form of The Gallery at JNStudios.

Owner Jennifer Neslund founded JNStudios in 2015 as a dedicated studio space for the visual and performing arts. This fall, Neslund relocated to an East Louther Street space, allowing her to open The Gallery at JNStudios as an intimate space dedicated to art exhibition, in addition to her own visual and performance studios.

Tall windows bring in beautiful and abundant natural light to illuminate the space and welcome visitors to a variety of creative explorations. Through JNStudios, which includes an as-yet unexplored pocket yard, Neslund will continue to pursue her vision of the union between visual and performance arts that encompasses art exhibitions, small scale musical performances and Salon-style poetry and spoken word. Following its first art exhibitions and concerts, JNStudios has already proven to be an asset to the Carlisle arts community.

In The Gallery’s current exhibition, ceramic artist Kirsten Olson presents “Artifact,” an assortment of pieces that all pay homage to her journey as an artist studying in communities from as far away as Fairbanks, Alaska, to Seagrove, North Carolina. The anthropological influences of the cultures she has studied are evident in imagery drawn from the native northern cultures.

Olson explains, “My ceramic forms and patterns recall the shapes of northern material culture from harpoon heads, tools and parkas, while the glaze and kiln firing process reflects the textures associated with the natural materials such as bone, ivory and wood.”

In the center of the gallery, an “Artifact Table” holds a variety of objects from “Gaming Pieces” and “Harpoon Hooks” to “Belt Loops and Hooks” and “Snow Goggles.” Each grouping is as beautiful as it appears to be utilitarian. Constructed from porcelain and North Carolina Clay, these salt-fired creations are explained to have both spiritual, as well as material functions.

Similar shapes and glazes can be seen in a variety of amulet necklaces and earrings. In these more decorative pieces, Olson has drawn from the more functional aspects of her work to bring the graceful lines and exquisite forms to become wearable art.

Olson’s vessels demonstrate that even in her larger works, she does not lose the stunning details in her construction. “Avataq” is a series of oxidized vases made from porcelain, finished with a lava glaze, resulting in earth tone textured surfaces that resemble the look of pumice. Their round and oval forms, from which small spouts emerge, are a perfect example of how Olson is able to focus equally on both the small and larger aspects of her pieces.

The vessels that line the shelves of the gallery incorporate Olson’s desire to capture the ideas of culture and community upon the bowls, cups and plates or “material objects.” “A culture continues to exist in the information engraved on the material objects,” Olson says.

Imagery, such as animals, shapes found in nature and landforms, are represented on her vessels, not just as decoration, but also serving as a cultural touchstone. “My ceramic vessels not only contain the food and drink that nourish, but also contain the ideas of culture and community,” she says.

Kirsten Olson’s ceramic art has merit in both their historical roots and their modern significance. The limited color palette of white, black and accompanying gradients in strong forms and lines cannot be denied to have contemporary appeal. They appear to be sleek and modern, as much as they hold the heart of the northern cultures of which they draw inspiration. The traditional glazes and firing techniques result in timeless works of art.

To learn more about the work of Kirsten Olson, visit

“Artifact” by Olson is on exhibit at The Gallery at JNStudios through Dec. 29. The Gallery at JNStudios is located at 175 E. Louther St., Carlisle. Gallery hours are 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. Friday, 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, and other times by appointment. The Gallery can be reached at 412-721-9955 or

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Joseph George holds a degree in history and art history from Dickinson College. He and his wife, Barrie Ann have spent over 25 years together traveling and visiting art galleries locally and throughout the world. They have been writing about the local art scene for five years. Their tastes range from fine art to street art.