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My Background

My name is Osa Atoe. Iā€™m from the Virginia suburbs of Washington, DC and I lived in Portland, Oregon and Oakland, California before settling in Louisiana. I started taking community pottery classes in 2013 when I was living in New Orleans, quickly became obsessed with the medium and made a small at-home studio for myself in the spring of 2015. I had my pottery wheel in the kitchen and a small Skutt KM-818 in a shed in the backyard. A year later, I moved to Baton Rouge, Louisiana with my husband and two dogs. Since we have more space here, I was able to expand my studio setup. I also completed a one-year post-baccalaureate program for ceramics at Louisiana State University in May 2018. My bachelor's degree is in Sociology with a minor in Women's Studies and I've always been a musician playing in various punk rock bands, so discovering pottery changed the course of my life. Presently, Pottery by Osa is a one-woman operation, making sales online via my Etsy shop and in person at craft shows in Louisiana and Texas.

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My Work

As a transplant to Louisiana, who has been living here for a decade, my aesthetic is one that comes more from an internal sense of self than the external influences of Southern culture. I wish to express a multiculturalism and a human universality through my work--perhaps a reflection of my upbringing in the Washington, DC area. There, I grew up the child of Nigerian immigrants, surrounded by other immigrants from all over the world. My understanding of American culture is that it diverse and the result of an amalgamation of varied ethnic and cultural legacies. Because my family is from Nigerian, I think people are inclined to tie the aesthetics of my pottery to my cultural heritage, but I prefer to see my pottery as a reflection of the cultural exchange that comprises the core identity of the U.S. I talk more about this in the video below.

I use red stoneware clay (people often refer to it as terracotta) and often leave portions of my pots unglazed, decorated with carved and stamped geometric designs to hint at prehistoric or primitive ceramics. The patterns are simple and universal, as similar designs can be found on the bodies of ancient pots from all over the world. Some of my surfaces are inspired by the aged and weathered surfaces we observe in everyday life such as worn paint or oxidized metals. Despite these references to the past and the passage of time, my goal is to make work that fits into modern domestic environments. I wish for my work to be used daily rather than set aside for special occasions.

Tanner Short interviewed me for his anthropology class, African Diaspora, at Louisiana State University in the Fall of 2016. I show my process and we discuss whether my pottery helps to preserve "African culture."