Jen DePaolo

Artist Statement

My work is shaped by and for the relationships in my life. I think constantly of the ecosystem I inhabit and the complex networks that facilitate and impact daily life. I believe that building direct connections to neighbors near and far, and to our landscapes, food sheds and waters ways is the best chance we have of thriving. My artwork reflects the imagery, patterns, connections and tensions found in my ecosystem. I activate these objects in social gatherings, public events and community collaborations.

I organize events in galleries and public venues where I serve meals, facilitate rituals and prompt conversations. I leverage collaborative art making as a tool for community development in partnership with social profit organizations, small businesses and educational institutions.

I consider ergonomics, daily rituals and the patina of regular use when designing pottery, lining pots with white-on-white surface drawings that are abstractly narrative and complementary to a wide range of culinary colors and textures. Pots are wheel thrown and sculpted, painted with slip and terra sigillatta, carved through, fired, drawn upon, glazed and fired again. The interior, exterior and bottom of each object are addressed with the detail and complexity I find in the world around me.

-- Jen DePaolo


Jen DePaolo is an artist and community organizer in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Her work celebrates identity, connection and survival. She works for a more empathic and equitable society through her outreach, studio practice and collaborative events and projects. Jen integrates food and pottery through Gathered, a series of pop-up celebrations in partnership with Edible Magazine and local growers, chefs and other artists. Together with ceramic artist Jane Gordon she co-founded the What Becomes Project, which recently received a Fulcrum Fund Award of 516 Arts and the Andy Warhol Foundation to build community through collaborative clay sculpture. Jen partnered with writer and performer Ebony Booth to develop Burque Noir, an annual multi-media showcase for visual and performing artists in Albuquerque who are African American.

Jen earned a Liberal Arts Degree in Art and Writing from Houghton College and later moved to Albuquerque to pursue her MFA at the University of New Mexico where she also studied race, class and gender in American culture. She participated in UNM’s Land Arts of the American West program as a Teaching Assistant and maintains a strong ecological focus in her work. In 2008, Jen held her MFA exhibition, Home Economics, at the Harwood Art Center where, in 2011, she became full time staff as the Community Outreach Coordinator. Recent Exhibition highlights include NCECA 2017 Conference Exhibition, The Evocative Garden, La Mesa at NCECA 2017 and Beyond the Brickyard at the Archie Bray. Her writing has been published in Ceramics: Art and Perception.