Featured Artist: Zak Helenske


Zak Helenske got his start studying ceramics at North Dakota State University where he focused on functional ceramics. After finishing up his MFA in Ceramics and Ceramic Sculpture at Rochester Institute of Technology’s School for American Crafts, he devoted much of his time to interdisciplinary practice working primarily in metal. His experiences away from functional ceramics shaped a deeper understanding of the relationship between material and object. In 2015, Helenske moved to Seattle for a residency at Pottery Northwest where he shifted his work back to ceramics. Now a full-time studio potter, he works out of his studio in the Ballard neighborhood of Seattle.

Helenske’s work invites the viewer to consider both the visual and tactile properties of ceramics. Each piece of pottery is as much a functional object as it is an anthropological and historical connection to the craft tradition. The simplicity and geometry of the works allow for a versatile connection to the most intimate spaces of daily life. They contribute to the human story as symbols of domestic infrastructure, as objects of beauty, and as tangible representations of nourishment and gathering.

Most recently, Helenske finished up his two part As a Guest residencies. Over the course of June and July 2019, he explored the concept of what it is to be a guest, using experiences in Tainin City, Taiwan and Portland, Oregon as inspiration. The resulting works are embodiments of reciprocity, attempts to convey the deep gratitude that comes when there is a genuine connection between the guest and their host.

To learn more about Zak Helenske’s work or to inquire about available pieces, visit the Tacoma Art Museum store. We are open Tuesday through Sunday, 10am to 5pm. You can also send us an email at MuseumStore@TacomaArtMuseum.org or call us at (253) 272-4258 x3005. Your purchase directly supports Zak’s artistic vision and the museum’s mission of connecting people through art.

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