Meet the Artist
Renata Cassiano Alvarez
My practice is deeply informed by my family and my context as a Latin American. Both my parents are archeologists who dedicated their lives to deciphering the remnants of our past. Through this lens, I see the object as survival – objects with a sense of permanence and timelessness. My life has been filled with artifacts from my ancestors, belonging to religious and life rituals, and they are present in my making through form. Ceramics to me, embodies the natural vulnerability that exists within all of us, and the tension between ephemerality and endurance.
My work is a space for me to explore ideas and experiences around language. As a transnational artist, the ability to move from one language to another is crucial and illuminates the centrality of change within the human experience. In my own life, I have been fascinated by the physical transformations occurring as I adopted English as my primary language for daily use. My curiosity has led me to explore this phenomenon through material. For example, glaze is a surface material, it speaks a very specific language as the skin of the piece. When it is made to be the structure which holds everything together, however, we discover a material with a new sentience. The work is no longer constrained by canon and is empowered by the freedom that the unknown bestows.
The engagement with craft is vital within my practice. I believe craft is the pursuit of an intimate relationship with material that is dynamic, and which allows for the grounding of self to our own existence through our actions with material. Time unmakes us constantly, but with every gesture imprinted we save the now and make it tangible against the imitable march of time. This belief has been present since I first started working with clay, and has persisted and guided me until now. I became both the maker and the archaeologist of my own practice. My sculptures are the artifacts from the constant ritual of transformation, visceral witnesses of what happens within. I excavate and interpret them, looking to give meaning to it all.
Renata Cassiano Alvarez is a Mexican-Italian artist and interpreter from Mexico City, now based in Northwest Arkansas as the Visiting Assistant Professor of Art at the University of Arkansas School of Art. She works primarily in the medium of clay and is influenced by archeology, with a particular interest in objects that possess a sense of permanence and timelessness and language as transformation. Her work has been exhibited around the globe and can be found in public and private collections in Mexico, Estonia, Italy, Taiwan, Germany, Denmark, Latvia, China, USA and Slovenia. She works between her studio in Veracruz, Mexico and Springdale, Arkansas.