I’ve made a lot functional bowls and mugs over the years. But I’m drawn to do work that’s more figural. I grew up in a house stuffed full of knickknacks and figurines. Many were Catholic saints, such as el Santo Nino de Atocha, and San Martine de Porres, among many others. There were also folk saints, such as the legendary South Texas curandero, Don Pedrito Jamarillo.
They looked like toys to me, all lined up on a shelf but were off limits. They were untouchable because they were saints, they were sacred to the functions of our household. My grandmother wouldn’t let me hold them no matter how careful I promised to be.
When I made a plaster mold based on a statuette of Don Pedrito, I began to think how I could tell a story by altering that figurine. As I began to play with the form, something more uncomfortable emerged. These pieces create a juxtaposition of ideas for me. They look like friendly little knickknacks, saints taken down from a shelf—but what they actually represent is a family dynamic that was not especially happy.
Working in clay hasn’t healed any wounds for me, and I wasn’t really expecting it to. What I always wanted was a voice—and through ceramics I’ve found one.