Graffiti Ceramic Art Exhibit Brings Everyone to the Table

Opening October 30: In New Life: A Table for Everyone, Philadelphia-based ceramic artist Roberto Lugo uses porcelain, earthenware, china paints, ceramic decals, drawing, and painting, cross referenced with graffiti art, rap, and the history of ceramics.
Roberto Lugo

On Exhibit at UConn’s Contemporary Art Galleries
Oct 30 – Dec 1, 2017

Artist Talk & Reception
Oct 30 @ 5pm – 7pm
Arena Gallery
UConn Art Building
with a Performance by the UConn Chamber Singers

In New Life: A Table for Everyone, Philadelphia-based ceramic artist Roberto Lugo uses porcelain, earthenware, china paints, ceramic decals, drawing, and painting, cross referenced with graffiti art, rap, and the history of ceramics. With these resources, he venerates the hip-hop heroes of his youth alongside the black history icons of the past. He memorializes lives lost in racial conflict, and honors his own roots. His work seeks to complicate perceptions of his “ghetto past,” demonstrating a simultaneous respect for, and resistance to, the environment he grew up in. Lugo began his career as a graffiti artist before being introduced to the potter’s wheel, which gave him both the means and the metaphor to carry his message of self-realization and social justice. Embracing the accessibility of familiar forms and functional objects, he shares layers of personal, cultural, and social content in an art that invites everyone to the table. As Lugo explains, “I have a dream where I can change the world by making pots, showing others how to make pots, and by bringing those very vessels to a meal – a meal where everyone is valued. My work creates a place where hate is put up against love and finally loses.

“Although my history is filled with adversity, racism and sheer bad luck; I celebrate these moments in my work, I could not make art without the experiences they have offered to me. The act of making pots is a similar process of transforming the ground we walk on into something we eat from; we prize; we search all day for the perfect spot to put it on display. In many ways, this relationship from tragedy to triumph is a metaphor for my life’s story.”

Roberto Lugo is an American potter, social activist, spoken word poet, and educator. Lugo was born in 1981 in the Kensington neighborhood of Philadelphia, where his parents, originally from Puerto Rico made their home, a home that profoundly influenced his identity as an artist and activist. Lugo received a BFA in Ceramics from the Kansas City Art Institute in 2012, and an MFA from Penn State University in 2014. Lugo gained national attention shortly out of graduate school, when he was selected in 2015 as a National Council of Education for the Ceramic Arts (NCECA) Emerging Artist. In 2016, he was honored with the prestigious United States Artist Barr Fellowship, and in Fall 2017 Lugo accepted his current position as Professor of Ceramics at the Tyler School of Art at Temple University. Lugo was most recently named 2018 Ceramic Artist of the Year by Ceramics Monthly. He exhibits widely in the U.S., with work in collections that include the Philadelphia Museum of Art.

Recognizing the power of art as a vehicle for outreach to black and Hispanic communities, Lugo participates in artist talks and workshops, curates exhibitions, and serves on the board of arts organizations to promote their community responsiveness. Roberto Lugo is represented by Wexler Gallery in Philadelphia.

New Life: A Table for Everyone is co-curated by CAG’s Director Professor Barry A. Rosenberg and Sculpture/Ceramic Area Coordinator Professor Monica Bock.