I wish to express a multiculturalism and a human universality through my work–perhaps a reflection of my upbringing in the Washington, DC area. There, I grew up the child of Nigerian immigrants, surrounded by other immigrants from all over the world. My understanding of American culture is that it diverse and the result of an amalgamation of varied ethnic and cultural legacies. Because my family is from Nigeria, I think people are inclined to tie the aesthetics of my pottery to my cultural heritage, but I prefer to see my pottery as a reflection of the cultural exchange that comprises the core identity of the U.S. As a black artist, I am wary of being put in a box so that I may be easily categorized and (mis)understood. I reserve the right to express myself expansively and that means reaching to a wide variety of influences.I use red stoneware clay and often leave portions of my pots unglazed, decorated with carved and stamped geometric designs to hint at prehistoric ceramics. The patterns are simple and universal, as similar designs can be found on the bodies of ancient pots from all over the world. Some of my surfaces are inspired by the aged and weathered surfaces we observe in everyday life such as worn paint or oxidized metals. Despite these references to the past and the passage of time, my goal is to make work that fits into modern domestic environments. I wish for my work to be used daily rather than set aside for special occasions.
— Osa Atoe
I grew up in the Virginia suburbs of Washington, DC and I lived in Oregon, California and Louisiana before settling in Sarasota, Florida. I started taking community pottery classes in 2013 when I was living in New Orleans, I quickly became obsessed with the medium and made a small at-home studio for myself in the spring of 2015. I had my pottery wheel in the kitchen and a small Skutt KM-818 in a shed in the backyard. A year later, I moved to Baton Rouge, Louisiana with my husband and our two dogs. There, I completed a one-year post-baccalaureate program for ceramics at Louisiana State University in May 2018. My bachelor’s degree is in Sociology with a minor in Women’s Studies and I’ve always been a musician playing in various punk rock bands, so discovering pottery changed the course of my life.– Osa Atoe