Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Ana Cavalcanti, Ceramic Artist, Tells Her Story

I always thought I didn't have one drop of artistic talent in my blood, I couldn’t draw well or paint and although I appreciated music very much, I was not a good musician either. Today, however, I’m a potter and a photographer. Although I began primarily as a photographer I have metamorphosed into a potter.  Here is how everything began.

Saggar Fired lidded jar

One day I started to take pictures with an old camera and I thought I had found my art. On my birthday my father gave me a professional camera and I took some classes where I learned to develop and print my own work. I taught photography in Brazil until I moved to the US for graduate school with my husband. During my course work, I took Ceramics 101 almost as a default at the time.

Wheel thrown and altered jewelry box 

All the centering, lifting and physical work I had to do with the clay was very difficult but I loved it. I took ceramics classes every semester from 1989 until 1992. While my photography skills were getting better both technically and artistically, my ceramic crafts were still in the early stages. But I kept going until I graduated and when we moved to the Washington DC area, I found Glen Echo Park.


Glen Echo Park has an incredible photography department with a state-of-the-art darkroom, but I joined the Glen Echo potters instead. It was there, where I did not have any grades to worry about and no sense of aesthetics I needed to follow from someone else, with great people around me, that I slowly developed my skills and personal style. Today I have my own studio at home where I work every day enjoying every step of the process. I make mostly functional pieces and like to use a number of different clays and glazes. I sell my wares at markets and bazaars and I accept commissions as well.

Ying Yang Salt and Pepper Shakers set

This year, however, I plan to devote a good amount of my time to an old project that got lost along the years. When my dad passed in 2008, I thought of making a work in his memory. My father was a great storyteller so I thought of making some pots decorated with children's stories. They might be vases, lamps, murals, boxes, or whatever fits the story. I love this work! This style is completely different from my regular pieces but because these pieces are special to me, they must be different.

Ms. Cockroach's Wedding and Jack and the Beanstalk

I work from the inside out, sculpting figures by pushing the clay, working all the way up until the story unfolds. So far, I have made four of these pieces --  a vase with Jack and the Beanstalk, a jewelry box with The Steadfast Tin Soldier, a cookie jar with Ms. Cockroach’s Wedding (O Casamento da Dona Baratinha) and a lidded jar that tells The Monkey’s Big Tail (O Macaco do Rabo Comprido), my father's signature story. I plan to finish this project by 2018, weaving it in with my regular functional pieces.

The Monkey's Big Tale

Time, diligence, and a lot of work and support from my family proved me wrong - I do have more than one drop of artistic blood in my veins … and I like it.

This is Week 8 of 52 Artists in 52 Weeks. Thank you for reading and sharing Ana’s story today! To connect with Ana and see more of her work, please click the following links: