My Background

My name is Osa Atoe. I’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

I make functional terracotta pottery equally fit to commemorate milestones and to embellish casual daily rituals, like that morning cup of coffee. I hope to achieve an earthy, rustic beauty with the pieces I make. Each one provides a tactile experience for the user because of the places I leave unglazed and the portions that I carve. I must also always balance aesthetic concerns with practical ones because it is important to me that my pottery is used. Details such as the comfort of a mug handle or the food safety of my glazes (which I make myself) are as significant to me as the colors and patterns I choose to adorn each piece. The idea is to produce special pieces of pottery that you don’t have to be afraid to use daily. (Most items are microwave & dishwasher safe unless specifically noted.)

My main decorating techniques are carving and stamping to create geometric patterns and I absolutely love the color and texture of red clay, which I leave exposed whenever possible. My attraction to geometric patterns comes from their cultural universality. While researching the historical uses of red clay, I noticed a commonality of decoration—particularly during the Bronze Age period—from Europe to Africa to Asia and the Americas. To see what I mean, google “Anglo-Saxon pottery” and see how similar it looks to ancient pots made by Native Americans or West Africans. My family is from Nigeria, so 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.

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."