My father’s career as a civil engineer with the government gave my family the opportunity to live all over the world including the Philippines, Morocco, Greece and attending the boarding school TASIS in England. Through these experiences, I was able to build an appreciation for art that has continued throughout my life. Being exposed to the rich architecture, colors, textures, and histories of Greece and Morocco enabled me to foster a love for classical art and architecture. The integration of art with everyday life that I experienced, such as seeing artists publicly working with their hands to create beautiful objects in the Medinas of Morocco, set me on the artistic path.
I attended Virginia Tech, pursuing an education in Architecture and Urban Studies. Architecture provided a way to study the aesthetic beauty of an object in space while taking into consideration the function of the form and how it will be used. Also at Virginia Tech, I became involved in the ceramics program taught by Ellen Braaten who taught me how to apply architectural concepts to designing and constructing ceramics. It was through this experience that I adapted making ceramic pieces that not only look beautiful, but are durable and function well. The foundation of skills for my later career in ceramics was built here at Virginia Tech.
After graduating from college in 1997, I studied abroad for a month in Gallifa, Spain at the Joseph Llorens Artigas Foundation. Here, I got an introduction into being a career potter under the guidance of Ellen Braaten. The focus was on hand-building techniques and I had the opportunity to glaze my work in a Japanese Wood Fired Kiln. Although my love for ceramics was solidified during this time period, I still felt the need to pursue architecture in a professional setting in order to complete my architectural studies.
In 1998 I moved to Brooklyn, New York where over a course of seven years I worked for two different architecture companies all the while dedicating myself to the ceramic studio in the evenings and weekends. In 2000, along with seven other ceramic artists, we founded a cooperative pottery studio, the Sunset Park Ceramics Co-Op. By 2004, I had commissions from private clients, specializing in custom made dinnerware and decorative vases, and launched my website scarlettwares.com. By the end of the 6th year both my husband and I reached the critical point in our architecture careers where we had to decide whether we wanted to pursue our licensing exam in architecture or transition into a career in art. At this time we also decided to begin a family of our own. It was an all around good transition point and in 2005 we moved to Fredericksburg, VA to begin our adventure as parents as well as artists.
Our sons, Diego was born in 2005 and Cairo was born in 2008, and both children have influenced my work tremendously. They have brought wonder and magic back into my life and because of this I have recently begun to explore themes that my children enjoy, including Rocket Ship Cookie Jars, animal themed bowls with spouts for drinking cereal milk or soup broth and ceramic hand-puppets.
Other important themes in my work involve trying to capture the mystery and beauty of ancient and traditional cultures that I experienced as a youth. Evidence of this is in the lamps and the ceramic hand puppets I make. The lamps are ornate, organic, tower forms that emanate a soft light. Much like the mosque towers of Morocco or the monasteries growing out of the tops of Greek hilltops. Thinking of traditional dress of many cultures the ceramic hand puppets are these very distinguished characters adorned in colorful, eccentric clothing.
My work also draws upon inspirations from nature to create beautiful pieces that are also functional. Functionality takes on great importance in my work because I believe that as a potter you need to not only understand but enjoy exploring and experimenting with how pieces work even with the most common of objects in our everyday life such as the bowl. I have explored different ways in holding and decorating the bowl to give the user a new experience with an everyday object. Since the bowl is one of the most humble forms of ceramics that reaches back tens of thousands of years there is a sense of timelessness with the form and a connection between all of humanity.