They say a picture is worth a thousand words, and for good reason. Artwork has the ability to tell powerful stories. It demonstrates value in human society, transcending cultural and historical boundaries to become an integral part of the human experience. Roberto Lugo is an artist, ceramicist, social activist, poet, and educator who uses ceramics to tell stories about different cultures. As the Financial Times recently highlighted, his ability to “say it with clay” is inspiring, which is why a couple of his beautiful works are featured in the Clark Collection!
Lugo’s upbringing in North Philadelphia has influenced many of his pots, as well as hip hop and narratives surrounding his vibrant Puerto Rican heritage. One aspect of Lugo’s legacy I found interesting was that he noted how looking back at ceramics throughout history gives us a glimpse into that time period, such as the fact that Greek pottery displays people eating lying down. He hopes that thousands of years from now, people will have that same glimpse into his own community and culture – because he made it in clay.
The two pieces that are in the Clark Collection are made with porcelain, China paint, and luster. Both from the 2018 gallery in Wexler, Philadelphia, feature striking portraits surrounded by deep hues of blue and intricate designs. He uses classical pottery forms with portraiture and surface design to emphasize themes of poverty, inequality, and racial injustice. I admire how Lugo brings together multiple elements to make these delicate and creative pieces.
Lugo holds a BFA from the Kansas City Art Institute and an MFA from Penn State, with many of his works featured in exhibitions at the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, Houston Center for Contemporary Craft, and the Museum of Arts and Design in New York, and more. He currently works as an assistant professor at Tyler School of Art and Architecture in his hometown, an incredible way to spark his artistic passion in students’ lives today.
If you haven’t had the opportunity to take a look at Lugo’s extraordinary talent before, I highly recommend you do yourself a favor and check them out here now!
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