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Alumna finds creative outlet in folk-art inspired pottery

Alumna finds creative outlet in folk-art inspired pottery

Alumna finds creative outlet in folk-art inspired pottery
April 23
11:00 2021

After a day’s work as an administrative specialist at the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service, UNT alumna Nadia Rosales, 25, goes home to create pottery inspired by folk art and tattoo-like designs.

“[Her work is] very influenced by a lot of Americana, a lot of early tattoo ideas,” Brandon Kemp, tattoo artist and Rosales’ partner, said. “By early, I mean early American traditional kind of ideas, very Western.”

These inspirations also draw on Rosales’ interest in art that is “outside of academic definitions,” more community-based and culturally specific.

“I have always been drawn to artists [who] make outsider art, or maybe aren’t necessarily considered art, or is part of a folk tradition,” Rosales said. “Just because I think a lot of that’s overlooked but also, I don’t like things that follow traditional art rules and are kind of crude and naive in a sense.”

Rosales makes pottery out of her garage, where she has created a home studio with almost everything she needs for her art. There, she creates throw pottery and decorates her pieces with paint or a technique called sgraffito, meaning she will carve designs into the piece after laying down underglaze. After she designs her pieces, she fires them, glazes them and fires them a final time.

“She typically freehands all of her stuff straight onto her pottery,” Kemp said. “I think that it really makes her stuff stand out, as well as the fact that she has such a strong concept of color. She just has a great way of making these iconic, bold statements just from the color choices alone.”

. She first started with two-dimensional art, like painting and drawing. In middle school, she dabbled in a bit of pottery, but she officially picked it up in January 2020.

“I’ve always been drawn to this idea of drawing on clay and kind of transforming two-dimensional designs into something functional that people interact with on a daily basis,” Rosales said. “So, that’s something that really interested me about pottery is the functionality of it. Also, just having tangible art that you can interact with every day. I think adding the element of this functionality and everyday use kind of adds another layer of accessibility that I don’t think a lot of art forms have.”

Alongside making and selling pottery, Rosales works hard to keep a balance between this creative outlet and her day-to-day responsibilities, which include her day job and her 7-year-old daughter, Penelope.

“One big obstacle is the fact that I work 40 plus hours a week at my day job, so it’s hard to find time and not be exhausted,” Rosales said. “Also, there’s always the balance with parenting. Fortunately, [Penelope]’s very into making art herself, so I’ll just be in the studio and she’ll be in the studio at the same time.”

Through Penelope, Rosales met a fellow couple, who have become some of her major supporters. After  about six and four years of friendship, respectively, Isabella Urbina and her fiance Jaime Espo have seen Rosales evolve from making two-dimensional art to the pottery she creates now.

“When she first started her Instagram, she was very much like watercolor stuff,” Espo said. “She was drawing a lot. It has been very cool to see her transformation and [find] this niche that she’s very good at, because this pottery stuff, it combines everything she’s already been doing.”

Rosales’ works are put up for sale on her online shop, which is linked in the biography of her Instagram page, @nadiarosales__. Her next shop update will be on May 5 with new product releases. In the future, she hopes to be able to dedicate more time to her art, possibly as a full-time job.

“My hope is that [Nadia] gets in a creative space where she has a good balance,” Urbina said. “Where she’s not working too much to try to make ends meet, but where she has a good balance of being able to be creative and not hating it. [It] would suck to not want to [create] anymore.”

Featured Image: UNT alumna Nadia Rosales is throwing clay to create a ceramic piece on April 17, 2021. Image by Maria Crane

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Kelly Tran

Kelly Tran

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