VITRIFIED: Conversations Through Contemporary Ceramics

August 2, 2018 6:00 pm - August 2, 2018 9:00 pm

Curated by Juan Vallejo & Ed Escobedo

Featuring Artists: Cassia Allen, Taylor Bowman, Ed Escobedo, Michael Foerster, Ovidio Giberga, Elyse Grams, Susi Lopera, Juan Vallejo, Mary Wuest


The artists featured in VITRIFIED are current students, faculty, and alumni of UTSA and feature their work in contemporary ceramics. The artists express personal, social, and various subject matter through the versatility of clay.

With a range of sculptural to functional wares the artists employ various forms and techniques that aim to promote the importance of the ceramic arts. The artists share the common trait of being part of the UTSA organization and are examples of what the institution has produced and their impact in the local ceramic arts community, both locally and nationally.

The artists show their respective skills and aesthetic from incorporating mixed media to the delicate application of slip and glaze creating work that proves that ceramics are not limited to the familiar dinnerware. The rich history of ceramic art is present in the exhibited work with a contemporary view that each artist wishes to express and communicate with their own personal approach.

On view: August 2  – 18, 2018
Opening Reception: Thursday, August 2, 6 – 9pm
Open for First Friday, August 3, 6 – 9pm

Artist Statements:

Cassia Allen

A single finger pointing upwards can mean many things to a single person. As humans we look for meaning in everything and interpret gestures differently based on our own knowledge, beliefs and personality. My work, to me, is a reminder of faith in both the divine and the capabilities of my own two hands.

Taylor Bowman

As a ceramic artist, I make two types of work: sculptural and utilitarian. Both types of work are inspired by architecture, nature, and repetitive patterns. In my utilitarian work, I combine functional and dysfunctional qualities to my wares by creating vessel forms with intricate handles that force the user to be conscientious of how they would hold and interact with the vessel. By taking time to adjust their grip on my wares, the handler must slow down and be present in the moment when they use the ware.  My vessels are made to inspire curiosity and appreciation in a specific moment, thus transcending the mundane such as drinking morning coffee.   My sculptural work focuses on coral bleaching, plastic pollution, and shark finning, inspired by my interest in marine biology. As an avid scuba diver, I want my work to create awareness concerning marine conservation. These sculptures vary in size and invite the viewer to observe the structure from every angle, like a witness to an environmental crisis. Their physical relationship with the piece is meant to associate pollution with human’s intervention.

Ed Escobedo

From San Antonio, TX, artist Ed Escobedo is currently working on completing his BFA at the University of Texas at San Antonio in the Fall of 2018, with a concentration in ceramics and sculpture.  He began his Studio Art education at Palo Alto College and St. Phillips College in San Antonio before enrolling at UTSA. He is currently working at The Southwest School of Art as the Studio Facilities coordinator for their Summer Art Studios. His studio practice includes working with found objects and mixed media which he incorporates in sculptural and utilitarian vessels. He has exhibited work in numerous group shows locally and nationally, most recently at the National Council on Education for The Ceramic Arts 2018 in Pittsburgh, PA.

Michael Foerster

Foerster is an up-and-coming artist from San Antonio, Texas who recently earned his BFA at the University of Texas at San Antonio. Much of Michael’s work is characterized by hard geometric figures and mechanical lines that make reference to influential elements of popular culture that made an impact on Michael’s childhood. Attempting to recapture his childhood is an underlying theme that is explored in most of his current work in one way or another.

Ovidio Giberga

I’m often asked, “Why would you make work that is so potentially fragile?” The answer is because I can. I suffer and enjoy the challenges of the ceramic medium. It has a long rich history which I embrace and build upon. This work was inspired by the writings of my name sake Ovid, in his book “Metamorphoses.”

Elyse Grams

I am interested in the juxtaposition between functionality and uselessness in relation to my own femininity and the media I work in. I want to delve deeper into the way we speak about specific mediums and how certain types of craft can become stigmatized as “women’s work” devaluing them in Fine Arts spaces. To speak about women, often is to speak about roles. “Women’s work” is a term for the long-held belief in the idea that women are inherently domestic, being of the most use in the home. My work rejects the linear and dichotomized idea that a woman must be a preconceived list of adjectives, and advocates for the reclaiming of the phrase on our own terms. Through my work I hope to better understand how and why we have historically gendered objects and actions and how to begin to unlearn such biases.

Susi Lopera

I am a ceramic artist who creates enigmatic juxtapositions. Interested in poetic metaphor in which two things are reduced to one, I merge separate forms into combinations that make no logical sense, but that make conceptual or poetic sense. I hint at this poetic rationality with the titles of my sculptures. By presenting illogical combinations, I seek to destroy conventional reality and create a new reality that celebrates contradictions and change. Like the irrational juxtapositions of Surrealist artists Magritte and Dali, my sculptures are lifelike because they are representational and precise, but are impossible because they combine elements that should not be combined according to everyday reality. By making absurd ideas into tangible sculptures, I offer the possibility that the impossible can occur and be viable.

I think of all of my pieces self-portraits. As I split my identity by presenting it as hybrid sculpture in which two realities are mashed together in the same body, I destabilize the idea of identity, presenting myself as a site of tension between different forces. By thinking of my sculptures as self-portraits, identity can also be seen as a state in constant flux. Since my juxtapositions are absurd and are not limited to one logical interpretation, their meaning is constantly changing and rearranging.  I see my work in the context of the contemporary ceramic artists Beverly Mayeri and Adrian Arleo, Mayeri because her works explores identity and psychological narratives as my works do, and Arleo because her works are hybrid sculptures that question reality and identity.

Juan Vallejo

Juan J. Vallejo earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts with an emphasis in painting and drawing from the University of Texas Pan-American (now University of Texas Rio Grande Valley) and is currently pursuing a dual master’s degree from the University of Texas at San Antonio in Fine Art with a concentration in Ceramics and Art History with a Latin American focus.

Vallejo’s work has been exhibited at the San Antonio Art League & Museum in San Antonio, TX and the Upper Valley Art League in Mission Texas. His Photography has also been featured in the Huffington Post and publications for the University of Texas at San Antonio.

Mary Wuest

I am a storyteller. A Dadaist at heart, I create three-dimensional snapshots of everyday situations in order to question the validity of our current social structure. I have been taught to tolerate the shortcomings of our current society, and to instead look for comfort in convenient platitudes.  Phrases such as ‘change takes time’ or ‘every cloud has a silver lining’ offer a sense of empathy to the oppressed, while alleviating any responsibility to solve the root cause of a given problem. The drive to be successful in today’s highly competitive society can override simple human decency, and lead us to choose counterproductive responses to life’s daily challenges. I wonder, am I respectfully climbing the ladder of success, or am I engaged in a grownup version of King of the Mountain? In our current kyriarchal system, is it even possible to participate fully when nationality, gender, race, religious affiliation, sexual orientation, or any other characteristic may be used to disqualify anyone as an equal member of society?


Images from left to right: Susi Lopera, Mary Wuest, Ovideo Giberga