Clay Center resident Elina Jurado reveals ‘New Work’ Friday
If You Go...
Who: Elina Jurado
What: ‘New Work’
When: Opening reception 6 – 8 p.m. Friday
Where: Carbondale Clay Center
How Much: Free
Elina Jurado can remember growing up in Miami as a first-generation American and yearning for some sort of family heirloom in the kitchen. She would visit her friends and notice china brought out on special occasions or beautiful plates that connected them to their grandparents.
“I didn’t have that,” Jurado said. “We ate dinner on paper plates; we drank out of plastic cups. Because we were the first generation in our families to live in the States and be born American, we didn’t have any heirlooms or family inheritance or anything.”
So when, during her sophomore year of high school, Jurado took her first ceramics class, she instantly felt a connection to the process of making something that can be used.
“Being able to make something out of nothing, having so much expression and having it so malleable in my hands, so tangible, making whatever you want and then putting it in a kiln and having it come alive — that was what captured me about it,” she said. “And then being able to work in a medium that allows me to make objects that people have in the home, that comes from what I wish I had, or what you would see in someone’s cabinet.”
Jurado’s Panamanian culture emphasizes the importance of family and gatherings around food in the home. The artist statement on her website says, “I feel compelled to make functional works that enrich the experiences I grew up with at the table.”
In addition to influencing her desire to celebrate the kitchen, the most important room in her home, her Hispanic culture also influences the style of her pots.
Jurado has been a traditional folk dancer from when she was 6 years old. For 15 years, she danced in a group wearing a pollera, a traditional white dress with intricate embroidery. Her pollera is the visual inspiration for her pots, which are made with red earthenware clay and on which she paints floral patterns.
“The dresses, the costumes that they wear are very festive and colorful,” she said. “Having to let that go after I had moved away and gone to college, that part of me was still alive in me. I couldn’t let it go. So when I went to college, I was still finding myself inspired by this culture, by these designs, these flowers. They were still interesting to me, and I wanted to translate that into clay. It started my sophomore year, and I developed it a little bit, took some time off to breathe, and I just realized this is what draws me, this is what inspires me. And I’ve been developing it since. It’s definitely changed a lot. My flowers are more ornate, the colors I use, the composition, all of that has definitely changed. So it’s been an evolving way of working for me.”
Jurado’s exhibit at the Carbondale Clay Center, “New Work,” is a representation of where she is right now as an artist, and it’s her biggest show yet. She said she will have 50 to 60 pieces, including cups, bowls, flower vases and pots.
After growing up with no family heirlooms in her kitchen cabinets, Jurado is creating her own and hoping her work will be the nice tableware others bring out on special occasions.
“That’s where these objects are coming from: bringing out the family dinner or having a party and bringing out all the nice plates,” she said. “The subject matter is something that people know me for, but I feel like it’s evolving. It’s being polished and becoming more developed as far as composition goes, and color. I really am happy with what I’ve got so far, and I can’t wait to see it installed.”
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At the beginning of the pandemic, all artist Wewer Keohane wanted to do was clean her studio.