AMOCA Announces New Artists in Residence

Pictured from left: Natalia Arbelaez, Kirstin Willders, Colby Charpentier.

(California, March 5, 2021)—The American Museum of Ceramic Art (AMOCA) announced today three artists in residence for 2021–2022: Natalia Arbelaez, from the Women’s Studio Workshop in Rosendale, NY; Kirstin Willders, from the Houston Center for Contemporary Craft in Houston, TX; and Colby Charpentier, from the Cranbrook Academy of Art in Bloomfield Hills, MI.

Beth Ann Gerstein, Executive Director of AMOCA, commented: “The Artist in Residence program at the AMOCA Ceramics Studio provides residents with the time, space, and support to deepen and expand their creative work. It is a vital part of the museum’s commitment to contemporary artistic practices, and a critical component of our effort to bring diverse and accomplished artistic voices to our local community. On behalf of our partners, donors, members, staff, and our current artist in residence Grayson Fair, I’m thrilled to extend a warm welcome to Natalia Arbelaez, Kirstin Willders, and Colby Charpentier.”

Launched in 2012, AMOCA’s Artist in Residence program is one of the few long-term fellowship opportunities for ceramic artists on the West Coast. Located an hour from the desert, mountains, and beaches of Southern California and forty minutes east of Los Angeles, the residency provides artists an opportunity to produce or develop a new body of work while also participating in AMOCA’s programs.

This initiative is made possible by the Windgate Foundation, Julianne and David Armstrong, and the Laguna Clay Company. 

2021-2022 AMOCA Artists in Residence

Natalia Arbelaez is a research-based artist, using her work to study, highlight, and reveal the undervalued histories of Latin America, Amerindian, and Women of Color. Through figurative and sculptural forms, Arbelaez explores how identities are lost through conquest, migration, and time, gained through family, culture, exploration, and passed down through tradition, preservation, and genetic memory. During her residency, Arbelaez will use AMOCA’s permanent collection and other local collections to continue her project to highlight Women of Color who have made notable and significant contributions to the field of contemporary ceramics.

Arbelaez is a Colombian American artist, born and raised in Miami, Florida to immigrant parents. She received her B.F.A. from Florida International University and her M.F.A. from The Ohio State University (Columbus, OH). She has served as a resident artist at the Clay Art Center (Port Chester, NY) as a Barbara Rittenberg Fellow and was awarded the 2016 Inaugural Artaxis Fellowship for a residency at Watershed Center for Ceramic Arts (Newcastle, ME). She has held teaching positions at the Massachusetts College of Art and Design (Boston, MA) and the Harvard Ceramics Program (Boston, MA), and been the recipient of numerous awards. Most recently, Arbelaez was recognized by the National Council on Education for Ceramic Arts as a 2018 Emerging Artist in the field. Arbelaez will be in residence March–June, 2021.

Kirstin Willders is a multi-disciplinary artist and art historian. Her studio practice encompasses wheel-thrown ceramics, glass and light, and mixed materials, and is informed by historical Italian ceramics, Classical and Renaissance architecture, light and space, and phenomenology. Her recent work delves into queer history and culture in an attempt to retroactively construct her own foundations through lexicon, coded language, and pop-culture. The use of architectural elements in her work draws a connection between our somatic relationship to structured space and how our orientation within it affects perspective, experience, and meaning.

Willders received her B.F.A. in ceramics and B.A. in art history from Kent State University (Kent, OH), her M.A. from the Syracuse University Florence Program in Italian Renaissance Art (Syracuse, NY), and her M.F.A. in ceramic art from Alfred University (Alfred, NY). She currently serves as an artist in residence at Houston Center for Contemporary Craft (Houston, TX), and previously served as the artist in residence at C.R.E.T.A. (Rome, Italy). She was recently awarded the 2020 Outstanding Student Achievement Award by the International Sculpture Center (Hamilton, NJ). Willders will be in residence July 2021–April 2022.

Colby Charpentier is a process-oriented sculptor dedicated to the exploration of ceramic. His artistic process, grounded in a study of historical and contemporary materials production, deconstructs and reinterprets traditional vessel forms with visually arresting studies of texture, form, and color. His works are a tenuous balance of chaos and order, and a meditation on the tension between the organic and the ethereal.

Charpentier received his M.F.A. from the Cranbrook Academy of Art (Bloomfield Hills, MI) and his B.F.A. from Alfred University (Alfred, NY). He has served as a resident artist at the Morean Center for Clay (St. Petersburg, Florida), Sonoma Ceramics (Sonoma, CA), and most recently the Harvard Ceramics Program (Boston, MA). Charpentier has taught at the Massachusetts College of Art and Design (Boston, MA) and the Harvard Ceramics Program (Boston, MA), and been the recipient of numerous awards. Most recently, he was awarded the top prize at the International Porcelain Design Competition, the Franz Rising Star Award. Charpentier will be in residence October 2021–April 2022.



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Natalia Arbelaez

Natalia Arbelaez

Lucy Lewis, 2020. 15 x 8 x 10 inches. Terracotta with Majolica.

Mestizo Arbelaez, 2021. 18 x 11 x 8 inches. Terracotta with Majolica.

Patti Warashina, 2020. 14 x 10 x 7.5 inches. Terracotta with Majolica.

Sana Musasama, 2020. 16 x 9 x 9 inches. Terracotta with Majolica.

Margaret Ponce Israel, 2020. 19 x 8 x 10 inches. Terracotta with Majolica.

Kirstin Willders

Kirstin Willders

As Above, So Below, 2019. 52 x 52 x 52 inches. Glass, neon, wheel-thrown and assembled ceramic, GTO wire, electrode boots, latex paint, transformers.

Hair Folly, 2019. 15 x 13 x 13 inches. Wheel-thrown ceramic, glass, hair, gold leaf, adhesive.

Time Piece: In Phase, 2020. 20 x 14 x 16 inches. Wheel-thrown ceramic, gold leaf, clock, battery, ponytail.

See and Be Seen, 2019. 66 x 59 x 37 inches. Wheel-thrown ceramic, glass, neon, glitter, hair, LEDs, adhesive, found table, transformers.

Lexicon 1 [Friends of Dorothy], 2020. 96 x 48 x 24 inches. Wheel-thrown ceramic, glitter, Ruby Slippers, adhesive, wood.

Colby Charpentier

Colby Charpentier

Hand-Printed Basket, 11 x 11 x 7 inches. Hand-dripped beads of soft paste porcelain.

Arched Vessel, 11 x 11 x 21 inches. Wheel-thrown stoneware base, hand dripped beads of soft paste porcelain, coated wire.

Double Arched Vessel, 9 x 13 x 19 inches. Wheel-thrown stoneware base, hand dripped beads of soft paste porcelain, coated wire.

Repeated Bottles, 6 x 12 x 14 inches. Hand dripped beads of soft paste porcelain, coated wire.

untitled, 21 x 21 x 12 inches. Reassembled shards of soft paste porcelain.