Project Tag: figural





Cristina C├│rdova, Photo by Chad Weeden.

I have been sculpting my daughter since she was 9. This 15 year old version of Eva is unglazed and finished with burnished earth pigments from the island of Puerto Rico mixed with casein, lime, and oxides. They came specifically from two areas, one in Fajardo near the coast, where the rainforest is, and one from Orocovis in the mountainous center. Written on her back are the words ÔÇťde monte y marÔÇŁ ( ÔÇťfrom mountain and seaÔÇŁ ) in gold, a phrase from the song Verde luz by El Topo (Antonio Cabal Vale), which became a symbol of national Puerto Rican pride and an anti-colonialist anthem.

In my practice, the image of Eva is the embodiment of change and possibility. It speaks to the inevitability of transience and the inherited threads of code that perpetuate both genes and identity. This piece seeks to perform both as a symbol and a relic by holding in its materiality a part of the Island that has thematically bound this whole series through the years, exploring the riches and vulnerabilities of this small Caribbean nation that is my home.




Puerto Rican, b. 1976, Boston, MA
lives and works in Penland, NC

Native to Puerto Rico, Cristina Córdova creates figurative compositions that explore the boundary between the materiality of an object and our involuntary dialogues with the self-referential. Images captured through the lens of a Latin American upbringing question socio-cultural notions of gender, race, beauty, and power.  Córdova has received numerous grants including the North Carolina Arts Council Fellowship Grant, a Virginia Groot Foundation Recognition Grant, several International Association of Art Critics of Puerto Rico awards, and a prestigious United States Artist Fellowship award in 2015.

C├│rdova has had solo exhibitions at the Alfred Ceramic Art Museum, (Alfred, NY), and her work is included in the collections of the Renwick Gallery of the Smithsonian American Art Museum, (Washington, DC), Colecci├│n Acosta de San Juan Puerto Rico, (San Juan, PR), the Mint Museum of Craft + Design, (Charlotte, NC), and Museum of Contemporary Art, (San Juan, PR). In 1998, C├│rdova completed her BA at the University of Puerto Rico, and she received her MFA from the New York State College of Ceramics at Alfred University in 2002. C├│rdova is represented by Ferrin Contemporary.


Through my work I seek to generate figurative compositions that explore the boundary between the material driven, sensorial experience of an object and the psychological resonance of our involuntary dialogues with the self-referential.

I am driven by the primal act of imbuing an inanimate representation with a sense of presence, transforming it into the inspired repository of our deepest longings and aspirations. My goal is to have these compositions perform both as reflections of our shared humanity as well as question socio-cultural notions of gender, race, beauty and power.

  • Archive & Artist Site┬áHERE

Cristina C├│rdova, “Desde mi Balc├│n”, 2021, ceramic and metal, 33 x 14.5 x 10″


The balcony is an iconic location in Puerto Rico and the Caribbean. It offers a momentary escape from the domestic realm, a furtive viewpoint to survey the world from above. Balcony dwellers are part of the street insofar as they can watch life with its protests and processions, yet they are separate and contained in their own sheltered moment. After creating several of her own, the balcony has started to become an archetype in Cristina Cord├│vaÔÇÖs studio. ÔÇťBeyond describing a specific narrative,ÔÇŁ says Cord├│va, ÔÇťI am interested in staging a composition that triggers an emotional charge through the recognition of certain repeating elements as part of a series.ÔÇŁ Those elements include architectural components, the nude figure and unruly foliage, symbols related to the experience of femininity in a religious and masculine culture, notions of exposure and vulnerability, and the psychology of place.

Cristina C├│rdova, “Altar”, 2019, detail, ceramic and photograph installation, 83 x 75 x 82ÔÇ│


Cristina Cord├│va considers photography a background practice to her primary focus of sculpture. She employs it to expand the context of the figure by engaging the wall behind or the pedestal underneath it. It all began when after a few material experiments and some research, Cord├│va started looking at old landscape photographs of Puerto Rico. She came across the work of Jack Delano, a Ukrainian born, American photographer who wound up in Puerto Rico through the Farm Security Administration. After becoming the official government photographer for Puerto Rico he took innumerable heroic images of daily Puerto Rican life, rural and city-center alike. Cordova began combining DelanoÔÇÖs copyright-free images with her own photography. ÔÇťI persist on the idea that IÔÇÖm referencing the viewpoint of someone I know through these images,ÔÇŁ she explains. ÔÇťIÔÇÖm trying to capture or build a sense of veracity through the careful selection of real places portrayed in current and historical photographs. By combining them with my sculpture IÔÇÖm proposing a new relationship, a fantasy that is grounded in reality, a feigned diorama of sorts in the museum of my imagination.ÔÇŁ


Ferrin Contemporary “Our America/Whose America?” Anteroom Stair hall Installation at the Wickham House, Richmond, VA, 2024


2024 | Group Exhibition in the Wickham House at the Valentine Museum | Richmond, VA

February 20, 2024 ÔÇô April 21, 2024

Our America/Whose America?┬áIs a ÔÇťcall and responseÔÇŁ exhibition between contemporary artists and historic ceramic objects.

View the exhibition page HERE

Ferrin Contemporary, "Are We There Yet?", 2023, Exhibition Installation View with work by Chris Antemann, Cristina Córdova, Sergei Isupov, Crystal Morey, & Kurt Weiser, Photo by John Polak Photography

Are We There Yet?

2023 | at Ferrin Contemporary, North Adams, MA

ARE WE THERE YET?┬áis a celebration of Ferrin ContemporaryÔÇÖs 40+ years as leaders in the field of modern and contemporary ceramics.

View the exhibition page HERE

Figuring Space

2022 | at The Clay Studio, Philadelphia, PA

The Clay Studio Presents FIGURING SPACE, an Exhibition of Full-scale Figurative Sculptures by a Dozen Top Ceramic Artists Based in America

View the exhibition page HERE

IN DIALOGUE: Cristina C├│rdova & Kukuli Velarde

2021 | Duo Exhibition at Ferrin Contemporary | North Adams, MA

Feature of works by two artists who share several overlapping identities as Latina sculptors working in the figural tradition. Each explores subjects drawn from both their cultural histories and their roles as mothers, daughters and parents of young women documenting their own and their subjectsÔÇÖ generational changes.

View the exhibition page HERE


2020 & 2021 | Group Exhibition at Ferrin Contemporary | North Adams, MA

Virtual Conference at NCECA Rivers, Reflections, and Reinvention | 2021

Group exhibition of twelve contemporary female artists invited to explore the influence of gender and its impact on their practice.

View the exhibition page HERE


I was born into a household that both challenged and upheld gender archetypes. This simultaneity created a fluid identity in my creative perspective that has moved me to engage with a wide spectrum of narrative embodiments from the sexually untethered and universal to the absolutely feminine. I am human, I am Puerto Rican, I am a woman. Each of these breaks into a thousand fractals that create the prism through which my work comes into the world.

FC Artist News | Cristina C├│rdova | PBS Craft in America | New Works in Nature/Nurture

Cristina Córdova Del balcón Installation View


2018 | Solo Exhibition at Ferrin Contemporary | North Adams, MA

New work by Cristina C├│rdova, featuring large and small figurative sculptures exploring the relationship between the human and geographic connections within her native Puerto Rican landscape.

 View the exhibition page HERE


2018 | Solo Exhibition at Alfred Ceramic Art Museum | Alfred, NY

At its most basic level Jungla refers to a region of dense, intractable wilderness that sustains an ongoing evolutionary dance governed by uncivilized forces. This tropical landscape of my youth is a beacon to an identity, tying me back to a specific geography and the sediment of generations.

 View the exhibition page HERE

Cristina C├│rdova: Jungla installation. photo: Brian Oglesbee


At its most basic level Jungla refers to a region of dense, intractable wilderness that sustains an ongoing evolutionary dance governed by uncivilized forces. This tropical landscape of my youth is a beacon to an identity, tying me back to a specific geography and the sediment of generations. ItÔÇÖs unrelenting influence speaks of luscious yet ominous constructs that echo the socio-political conditions in the Caribbean. ItÔÇÖs unruly mystery seeps out of its confines to also serve as metaphor for a creative process anchored in that liminal space between chaos and balance. A practice that gathers significance amidst the subconscious forces that underpin reality and the firm directives of the ego. Through image and form, Jungla explores the relationship between these human and geographic connections.



Everson Museum of Art | Syracuse, NY
April 13 – October 20, 2024
Featuring Cristina C├│rdova, Paul Scott, & Steven Young Lee


The Women

Ferrin Contemporary presents selected works by women artists whose primary medium is clay. On view in the gallery and online, we introduce new works by emerging and established artists along with masterworks available from private collections and artist archives.


* Cristina’s newest workshop *



FEBRUARY 4-5, 2023 | (Online only)

ÔÇőArtist Workshop
Saturday, February 4┬á |┬á 2:00pm – 3:30pm
Hosted on Zoom
$40 members  |  $50 non-members
Free Lecture
Sunday, February 5 | 2pm – 3pm
ÔÇőFree and open to the public
Hosted on Zoom

Cristina Córdova excels at figurative sculpture, making finely-crafted pieces which celebrate our shared humanity while challenging notions of race, gender, beauty, and power.  She draws on a deep knowledge of art history to give life to contemporary ceramic portraits and invites the viewer to participate in the narrative.


I am excited to share my first online course with you. This class gathers 18 years of insight and information regarding the head that I put to use daily in my own studio practice. The course takes you step by step to help you navigate the structure and surface of the head through detailed demos, patterns and diagrams that simplify the complicated dynamics of the human form. It is designed to meet you at any level. This versatile slab-building approach will empower you to build fabulous, hollow ceramic heads at any scale. Let’s jump in!

* Cristina is offering this code for a 25% discount: LEARNFROMHOME *



Because of the slow, gradual unfolding of a clay sculpture it is often hard to relay the full arc of a piece from beginning to end in the traditional workshop context. This course will offer an intimate vantage point to study and understand all of the steps, tools and materials that come into play to create a clay head. With the methods showcased in this course and the open floor chat sessions between demonstrations to answer questions you will be fully empowered to create clay heads of different scales in your own studio. This course includes supplemental printed material that follows the course structure and several opt-ins to customize your experience.


Mastering Sculpture: The Figure in Clay Catalog by Cristina C├│rdova

Mastering Sculpture: The Figure in Clay Catalog by Cristina C├│rdova

Buy now

Explore the human form in-depth, from concept sketches and armatures to detailed instructions for constructing legs, torso, arms, hands, and head from clay.

In Mastering Sculpture: The Figure in Clay, renowned sculptor and instructor Cristina C├│rdova teaches everything you need to know to replicate the full human figure using clay.
Start by developing meaningful sketches and reference points.

Then learn how to make and use an armature to create hollow forms that are safe to fire in a kiln.

Using patterns and slabs, you can move on to develop a full human form, head to toe.
Work along with the author to create a form about two feet tall, or choose your own size: the patterns and instructions can work in a variety of scales.

Photographic demonstrations and diagrams cover the construction and articulation of feet and legs, the hip area and upper torso, arms, hands, neck, and head. Cristina includes supplementary tips and insights throughout to support the sculpting process and enhance naturalism. YouÔÇÖll also find a brief section on general anatomical concepts and modeling strategies to facilitate accuracy and expression as all the components come together.

Whether you are a clay artist with limited experience in figurative sculpture or a figurative sculptor outside the world of ceramics looking for a straightforward fabrication strategy to create permanent compositions from clay, Mastering Sculpture: The Figure in Clay will expertly guide your way.

Publication Date: 2022, Quarry Books
Fully illustrated 192 pages

Cristina C├│rdova: Jungla Catalog

Cristina C├│rdova: Jungla Catalog

Buy now


This catalog features a foreword by┬áWayne Higby, Director of the Alfred Ceramic Art Museum. The┬áexhibition catalog also includes color photography of the artworks and installation from CristinaÔÇÖs solo exhibition at the museum in 2018:┬áCRISTINA C├ôRDOVA: Jungla

Publication Date: 2018
Fully illustrated 32 pages

ÔÇťAt its most basic level Jungla refers to a region of dense, intractable wilderness that sustains an ongoing evolutionary dance governed by uncivilized forces. This tropical landscape of my youth is a beacon to an identity, tying me back to a specific geography and the sediment of generations. Its unrelenting influence speaks of luscious yet ominous constructs that echo the socio-political conditions in the Caribbean. Its unruly mystery seeps out of its confines to also serve as a metaphor for a creative process anchored in that liminal space between chaos and balance. A practice that gathers significance amidst the subconscious forces that underpin reality and the firm directives of the ego. Through image and form, Jungla explores the relationship between these human and geographic connections.ÔÇŁ ÔÇö Cristina C├│rdova

CRISTINA CÓRDOVA: cuerpo exquisito at Hodges Taylor




Cristina Cordova is a sculptor based in North Carolina. Originally from Puerto Rico, Cordova was studying engineering when she decided to quit her program and follow her dreams of being an artist. In her picturesque studio she creates arresting clay figures that are both personal and universal. Her work is exhibited as part of the permanent collections of the Renwick Gallery of the Smithsonian American Art Museum, the Museum of Contemporary Art of Puerto Rico, and the Fuller Craft Museum, among others.

View InFrame – Cristina Cordova


Artists explore issues of gender, race, culture and place, offering true expressions of their experience in this world.

Featuring potter Diego Romero, photographer Cara Romero, furniture maker Wendy Maruyama, and sculptor Cristina Córdova.

View Craft in Americs: New Identity Espisode


Cristina is one of the dozen artists whose work appears in Figuring Space, an exhibition of life-size ceramic figurative sculpture. We are thrilled to have this talented artist as a guest to ask her about her inspirations for the ideas and styles of her work.

View Clay and Conversation Video


Additional works may be available to acquire, but not listed here.

If interested in lists of all works and series: Send us a message



Featured in Making Place Matter at The Clay Studio in Philadelphia, PA through October 2nd, 2022


Peruvian-American, b. 1962, Lima, Peru
lives and works in Philadelphia, PA

Kukuli Velarde is a Peruvian-American artist who specializes in painting and ceramic sculptures made out of clay and terra-cotta. Velarde focuses on the themes of gender and the consequences of colonization in Latin American contemporary culture. Her ceramic work is a visual investigation of aesthetics, cultural survival, and inheritance.

Velarde has had multiple solo exhibitions, most recently including Kukuli Velarde: The Complicit Eye at Taller Puertorrique├▒o (Philadelphia, PA), Kukuli Velarde at AMOCA (Pomona, CA), and Plunder Me, Baby at Peters Project Gallery (Santa Fe, NM). Her work may also be found in numerous public institutions, including the Museum of Fine Arts (Houston, TX), the John Michael Kohler Arts Center (Sheboygan, WI), and the Museo de Art Contemporaneo de Lima, (Lima, Peru).

Velarde is the recipient of numerous grants, including a John Simon Guggenheim Fellowship, a Pollock Krasner Foundation Grant, a United States Artists Knight Fellowship, and a PEW Fellowship in Visual Art. She was awarded the Grand Prize for her work exhibited at the Gyeonggi International Ceramic Biennale in Icheon, South Korea. Velarde holds a BFA (magna cum laude) from Hunter College of the University of New York. Velarde lives and works in Philadelphia, PA.


I am a Peruvian-American artist. My work, which revolves around the consequences of colonization in Latin American contemporary culture, is a visual investigation about aesthetics, cultural survival, and inheritance. I focus on Latin American history, particularly that of Per├║, because it is the reality with which I am familiar. I do so, convinced that its complexity has universal characteristics and any conclusion can be understood beyond the frame of its uniqueness.

Kukuli Velarde, “I Speak Spanish, Yo Hablo Ingl├ęs”, 2021, oil on stretched canvas and wood panel substrate, mounted on 7 aluminum panels, 96 x 96″.

ON I┬áSpeak Spanish, Yo Hablo Ingl├ęs

I Speak Spanish, Yo Hablo Ingl├ęs is an intersectional feminist work dealing with themes of America, immigration and the Latin diaspora, femininity, and motherhood. Velarde wanted to make a painting to summon her personal experience as an immigrant while also honoring Indigenous peoples of the land now known as the United States of America. Expressing the myriad realities and experiences of vast diasporas led to a deeply layered and symbolic work. ÔÇťYou have an idea of what America is which, in many ways, is not the America you encounter” says Velarde, who stresses that she chose to leave her native Peru. ÔÇťI was never pursuing ÔÇśthe American dream.ÔÇÖ IÔÇÖm an immigrant by choice but I can certainly imagine what itÔÇÖs like for many people who do have to flee or escape.ÔÇŁ

The painting is multilayered. The most obvious and recognizable iconography is the American flag behind a female body with multiple faces. The red stripes imply a history beyond the Declaration of Independence.┬áThe white stripes include the pattern of Lenni Lenape wampum belts. The Lenni Lenape people are from Lenapehoking, their expansive historical territory that included present-day northeastern Delaware, New York City, Western Long Island, the Lower Hudson Valley, New Jersey, and eastern Pennsylvania along the Delaware River Watershed. Velarde now lives in Philadelphia. ItÔÇÖs believed the Lenni Lenape offered these traditional belts to William Penn, the founder of Pennsylvania, as a peace treaty between Penn and Tamanend, a chief of the Lenni Lenape in 1683. “The flowers in the red stripes have always been here, regardless of humans. They are indigenous to the land,ÔÇŁ says Velarde, referring the flowers found within the flag.┬áÔÇťFurther, the flag is fenced off as a reference to the difficulties of achieving┬áÔÇśthe dreamÔÇÖÔÇöthereÔÇÖs always an obstacle to achieve it, real or imaginary. And the fence become such a symbol in the Trump era, which is part of what provoked this painting,ÔÇŁ says Velarde.

Velarde remembers seeing a four-faced, back forward figure in a church in her motherÔÇÖs hometown of Huaro, Peru. It was painted in the colonial era by Teofilo Benavente.┬á

VelardeÔÇÖs figure is also four-faced and rear-presenting. First, itÔÇÖs VelardeÔÇÖs way of blocking objectification and refusing common narratives about the female body. One of the four faces is backwards, hidden from the public and looking at the flag and at history. VelardeÔÇÖs figure is looking out toward America, and at the same time side-to-side and behind, as an attitude of awareness to her surroundings. All of this is painted as an almost-but-not-quite-Vitruvian-meets-the-crucified-Christ-woman to comment on the the cultural expectations of femme and female bodies in a culture that prescribes a paradigm that people cannot fulfill. ÔÇťWith these ideas of universal human aesthetics, nobody can achieve that and we all become ugly. ItÔÇÖs a commentary on erasure,ÔÇŁ Velarde elaborates.

Finally, the female character, half superhero/half saint, is talking to the audience loud and clear, in a spiral of ribbons that signify speech. She is speaking English and Spanish to anybody who cares to listen/read, and is defending her rights to be herself within a social environment that has become toxic and dangerous for diversity and community. ÔÇťWhat is her power?,ÔÇŁ asks Velarde. ÔÇťPerhaps her only power is not to allow others to silence her, to keep goingÔÇöto exist and resist.ÔÇŁ

_ _ _
For more on the Lenni Lenape, wampum belts, and the Penn treaty please visit our source: Native American Heritage Month: Penn Treaty Wampum Belts, by Richard Naples, November 23, 2016.

Kukuli Velarde “ISICHAPUITU” figure installation during IN DIALOGUE two-person exhibition with Cristina Cordova, Oct. 16 – Dec. 31 2021


An oral tradition from Cusco, Per├║ tells the story of a priest who was wildly in love with a woman who died. In his despair, he procured a ÔÇťvessel of deathÔÇŁ for summoning her spirit, and loved her one more time. The ÔÇťvessels of death,ÔÇŁ known as Manchaypuitu (male) and Isichapuitu (female), were human-like vessels known to be powerful tools for bringing the spirits from the past.

Kukuli Velarde created 74 Isichapuitu vessels between 1997-2006. Each of the figures responds to a very different need, as delineated by Velarde in her series statement: 

I feel my body populated by memories, impressions, beliefs, fears and desires. They are imprinted deeply, almost etched. They follow me, tormenting me, or sweetening my path. At the stage of my life when I created Isichapuitu, I wanted to summon their presence, thank them for being, and make peace with each of these emotions and memories. I didn’t know how, until I saw a photograph of a Mexican statue from the Rockefeller Collection at the Metropolitan Museum in New York. The figure was two thousand years old and represented an obese male child with his arms up.┬á Somebody made it two thousand years ago, and yet I believe, it looks like me.┬á┬á┬á┬á┬á

It is said that every work of art is a self-portrait. I imagine the Huastecan artist modeling the clay, giving it his or her eyes, his or her full cheeks, his or her protruding upper jaw. I imagine him or her looking like me, and then, I imagine myself making the Huastecan piece two thousand years ago. I believe I am continuing something I began long ago. I am remaking it over and over, as if I don’t want to depart from it, as if it were possible to prolong the moment of creation and continue an eternal labor of love.┬á

My figures are different organs of a single body presented on the floor, next to each other, as a metaphor of wholeness. Each of us are the sum of viscera and flesh, expectations and disappointments, memories and oblivion, generosities and pettiness. They go on the floor because I want them invading our realm. They go next to each other, because they were not created to be observed and qualified as objects. Their value lies not in my skills but in their mere existence. They exist, first for me, and then for everybody else. The Isichapuitu installation is an exorcism, but it is also a farewell, and a new beginning.


videos featuring Kukuli Velarde 



Artist Kukuli VelardeÔÇÖs series Corpus, composed of sculptures and embroidered banners, evokes ritual procession mixed with cultural influences that reflect her contemporary perspective. The artist investigates aesthetics, cultural survival, and inheritance specifically in terms of Latin American history, reinterpreting them through her own postcolonial and feminist lens.

In this talk, Velarde considers the influences on this body of work as well as her multimedia artistic practice with curator Elisabeth Agro. VelardeÔÇÖs work was part of the exhibition New Grit: Art & Philly Now at the Philadelphia Museum of Art May 7 – August 22, 2021.

In the Artist's Voice: Kukuli Velarde presented by the Philadelphia Museum of Art

Kukuli Velarde on The Potters Cast

The podcast from May 2019 is a follow-up to her NCECA demonstration and an overall discussion about her work and history. Follow the link to the right to listen and read their additional Q&A about her works.