Elianna PérezJenkintown, Pennsylvania

Red Lodge Clay Center – Short-Term Resident (ASPN) 2024

Elianna Pérez is a Philadelphia-born ceramic artist who earned a B.S. in Studio Arts from Syracuse University in May 2024. Pérez started making ceramic work in 2015, and has worked with it consistently since. Her early ceramic work was displayed at the Woodmere Art Museum in Philadelphia as part of a student exhibition, at the Pennsylvania State Education Association Art Show at Arcadia University, at the Clay Program of Excellence at Tyler School of Art, and is now at Syracuse University. Pérez explores themes of identity, family and the natural world as she throws, builds, carves, decorates and fires clay. Most of her work is carved and atmospherically fired in soda or salt kilns. In 2023, Pérez traveled to Florence, Italy for school over four months. There she spent time traveling to various Italian and European cities, collecting ceramic pieces from each place.

My work celebrates a sense of community. I grew up in a low-income urban neighborhood where crime and littered streets were more common than tree-lined parks and scenic bike trails. Through my child-view lens, sitting on my porch and observing my block, I learned to appreciate the small areas where I could observe beauty in a sea of the undesirable. From ornamental metal gates to clusters of scattered dandelions on unmowed lawns, one could certainly find charm in the patterns of my neighborhood.

Amongst the “badlands” were blocks full of laughter and gratitude. Community was the people, the common experiences of Spanish language and Caribbean food, the block parties, the porch conversations on hot summer nights. My work conveys this sense of community through beautiful patterns observed in my childhood neighborhood.

When translated into clay, the carved designs ornately adorn their vessels, making the seemingly insignificant admirable, and preserving happy memory from a perceivably dark place. Through salt fired functional ware and sculpture, my work aims to connect the culture and community of my Latino neighborhood in Philadelphia with my family’s roots in Puerto Rico.

I am a second-generation Puerto Rican artist illuminating overlooked beauty rooted in culture, family and community.