Colleen Riley


About the Artist

Colleen Riley has been making pots full-time since 2005. Prior to establishing her current studio, she shared a collective studio space while running a graphic design business. She began her studies at the Northern Clay Center, and has continued her education by working closely with several area potters and attending workshops. She participates in several art fairs and exhibitions each year, and her work is in the shops of the Minnetonka Art Center (MN) and the Northfield Arts Guild (MN). She currently teaches at the Minnetonka Art Center, and is founder and current president of Minnesota Women Ceramic Artists (MNWCA). Her emphasis is on soda fired functional dinnerware, serving pieces, vessels, and garden artwork.

Colleen lives and works in Eureka Township, Minnesota with husband Donovan Palmquist.

Artist Statement
My work captures and reveals the layers, patterns, and textures of my rural landscape, such as a carpet of decaying leaves in the woods, or the contours of a freshly plowed field.

My mother was an accomplished seamstress and musician. At an early age I became intrigued by the designs of the patterns and fabrics she used, while my own studies of music imprinted a sense of cadence and harmony. My father was an exuberant craftsman in many disciplines, who taught me to appreciate the beauty of good design, such as the Airstream trailer and an anvil storm cloud. These influences have made their way into my work.

I strive to make functional pieces that are elegant, yet comfortable for use and inviting to the touch. My work celebrates the historic ceramic tradition of decorative botanical themes, while making an intimate connection to my imperfect and ever-changing environment. The graceful, fluid forms of early 20th-century European decorative objects, and the strong lines of mid-century furnishings and textiles are referenced in this work. Soda firing enhances the textures and gives a rich, aged quality to the clay’s surface. It adds an element of surprise that keeps the work interesting and ensures that each piece is lively and unique.