Roberto Lugo is an artist and a graduate student getting his MFA at Penn State. Roberto grew up in the Kensington Neighborhood in north Philly, an area unfortunately known for crime, drug use, and prostitution. We want to introduce you to Roberto and to his work. Here is his story of how he got out of his Philadelphia neighborhood and into the art world:
I began my path in art at the age of 15 in the streets of Philadelphia. My brother (currently incarcerated) was a graffiti artist named Maz. Wanting to do everything my brother did, I began to draw and from this experience I learned color theory, perspective, and line quality. Most of all I started seeing the ghetto I lived in as walls for canvases of expression. Being a youth in the Kensington neighborhood of Philly, I started to go in the wrong direction. As I saw many of my friends and family going to prison I decided they only way I could change my future was to leave. Without any direction or purpose I left the ghetto and would one day find myself in an art class at the age of 25. I quickly realized this is what I was meant to do and the happiness in finding myself was quickly met with the realization my education had been neglected. I have since decided to dedicate my life by speaking about this through art.
My ceramics are intended to be a biographical narrative that tells the many stories of my life. The fluidity of throwing a pot reminds me of the arm gesture used to tag a wall. By making functional work I bring my story to someone’s daily life and in a way they drink and eat from it.The objects I create speak of personal subjects – my experiences with obesity, racism, and class division. Drawing imagery on my pottery creates a direct way to tell stories to diverse audiences, including those from communities like the one in which I was raised. I often use images of animals as allegories for human narratives. Along with my studio work, I pursue activism with a combination of the arts and community involvement. These endeavors are a passion and have a strong impact on my studio production. The effects of these practices mirror the intention I desire from my pottery’s social statements. After speaking to Richard, I can’t tell you how much our conversations have inspired me. I feel like someone who knows where I am from, now knows where I am.
You can see more of Roberto’s work, and follow his blog at http://robertolugoceramics.wordpress.com