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Artist Spotlight: Roberta Klug, Ceramicist
1. Introduce yourself- where you’re from, what you do, and your favorite food to eat
Hi! My name is Roberta Klug and I am an L.A. based artist. I was born and raised in Italy and moved here for the last leg of high school. I attended Cal State Long Beach where I studied Studio Art. I spend most of my time creating with clay and am currently working at a non-profit that provides art programs to LAUSD and charter schools. As a proud Italian, I’d have to say my most favorite food to eat is my mama’s pasta. I love her “pomodori saltati”, a pasta dressed with sautéed cherry tomatoes and garlic. So simple, but so delicious. It’s happiness in a bowl!
2. When did your interest in ceramics begin?
I was in my last year of college and felt this pull to use my hands. I was really drawn to the idea of playing with clay so I decided to enroll in a wheel throwing class. I remember it being frustrating but felt ferociously determined to practice as much as I could. It was love at first throw (pun intended). It was incredibly therapeutic and quite literally centering. I was infatuated with the idea that touch, or hands, could birth anything I felt or imagined. The wheel was like home and I found myself in the studio all the time. That’s when I realized it was my passion. It was all I wanted to do, and it’s been a love story ever since.
3. How has growing up in Italy influenced your artistic vision?
As a romantic and extremely nostalgic person, I believe growing up in Italy is a fundamental part of me and is equally embedded in my work. I look back to my childhood often and consider it a privilege to have lived in a small town of no more than 10,000 people at the foot of the Swiss Alps. My childhood was spent outdoors, which led to unspoken respect and admiration towards Nature. I understood that happy cows gave hearty milk, and nurtured soil gave the sweetest fruits. The earth that was cared for, would care for us in return. It was wonderful.
My siblings and I were encouraged to take the time to learn how things were made and made well. I inherited this innate sense of history, tradition, and profound appreciation and respect for the craft. These sacred lessons of my childhood are reflected in my pieces and I carry them with me wherever I go.
4. Is there a process you have for creating each piece since each one is a unique one-of-a-kind item?
It’s quite an organic process. I constantly think about what I’d like to make. I sketch every day and keep a visual diary of things that I find interesting or make me feel good. I rent stacks of books on all sorts of subjects from the library and take stills of films that I find visually potent. I believe my work to be a product of my observations and appetite to see and experience everything. My inspiration emerges from the continuous pool of research and information I’ve accumulated. I have an insatiable desire to learn and experiment. When I end up at the studio, even if I have a plan for the day, I tend to just grab clay and go at it. I allow myself the freedom to play and create diverse work, both conceptually and in form.
5. Who/what inspires you to create these pieces?
I feel deeply about the health of our environment and what it means to be a woman. Some of my work raises questions about the status quo and act as an invitation to be proactive in our everyday lives. However, my family is the champion out of the many topics that inspire me. Spend a day with them and you would feel like you’ve just experienced the end of every feel-good movie. Walking away feeling invincible and with a renewed sense of happiness. I hang on to this feeling of overbrimming love and acceptance and funnel this energy and intention into what I’m making. In hopes of creating vessels that spark the same wonder, magic, and playfulness that we see in children.
6. What is your favorite part of your job?
Most aspects of it are my favorite, but it’s very special to catch people’s reactions to my work and see them feel what I hoped they would.
7. Is there a specific type of denim you prefer to wear for working with ceramics? An artist's uniform perhaps?
I need to be able to move freely in the studio and always manage to get dirty, so I tend to wear a pair of loose-fitting and durable pair of jeans.
8. What is your favorite thing to create and why?
I love to make works that look like precious relics but are created with the intent of being functional, everyday objects. Blurring the line of what is meant to be looked at, and what is meant to be subjected to slow and constant wear.