July 1, 2022–January 8, 2023
At Grounds For Sculpture, a solo exhibition featuring Roberto Lugo features entirely new creations by the artist, social activist, spoken word poet, and educator. These multicultural mashups were produced on-site during a residency at Grounds For Sculpture, reinterpreting classic European and Asian porcelain forms and techniques with a 21st-century street sensibility. Roberto Lugo’s exhibition The Village Potter is a 20-foot-tall vessel with an interactive viewing platform, the artist’s first attempt at a project of this size.
“Grounds For Sculpture amplifies the diverse voices and visions of those working in the field today,” said Gary Schneider, Executive Director of Grounds For Sculpture and co-curator of the exhibition, along with Faith McClellan, Director of Exhibitions and Collections. “As an artist, Roberto addresses equity and justice through visually compelling and exquisitely made ceramics; as a person, he shares our commitment to making art accessible to all.”
Roberto Lugo, who is of Puerto Rican descent and was born in Philadelphia, first experimented with art as a graffiti artist before switching to ceramics. His recent work illuminates porcelain’s historically aristocratic surface with imagery that sparks discussion about his primary concerns: equity, access, and social and racial justice. He employs a range of clay materials, including porcelain, in this process. His surface approach combines conventional design, graffiti, and portraiture with a concentration on important figures of color from history and modern culture, such as Sojourner Truth, Dr. Cornel West, The Notorious BIG, as well as Lugo’s relatives and frequently himself.
In milled foam, Roberto Lugo produced his first colossal sculpture. Put Yourself in the Picture was the title of the piece, which was finished by the artist when he was a resident there, created at The Digital Atelier, then painted by Lugo at The Seward Johnson Atelier. Via an observation platform, visitors can enter the vessel and walk through it. The exhibition’s interactive nature is further enhanced by a drop-in maker space in the gallery, which gives visitors the chance to play with clay’s physical properties.
Additional ceramic pieces in the exhibition speak to current events including the appointment of Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson to the Supreme Court. The exhibition addresses the idea of mentorship in the growth of his practice and exhibits a selection of work by other artists, handpicked by Lugo.
“For my exhibition at Grounds For Sculpture, I reflected on what it means to be the ‘village potter’—both in terms of celebrating the people who have paved the way forward for me and striving to build that sense of community support for others,” said Roberto Lugo. “Art builds empathy as well as an understanding of other people that will lead us to see ourselves in one another and grow a family rather than a society.”
A concurrent exhibition, Fragile: Earth, features sixteen artists working in clay: Natalia Arbelaez, Ashwini Bhat, Ebitenyefa Baralaye, Syd Carpenter, Adam Chau, Jennifer Ling Datchuk, Magdolene Dykstra, April Felipe, Raheleh Filsoofi, Salvador Jiménez-Flores, Anabel Juárez, Anina Major, Jane Margarette, Mariana Ramos Ortiz, Virgil Ortiz, and Sarah Petty. It is curated by Angelik Vizcarrondo-Laboy and is in partnership with The Color Network.
About Grounds For Sculpture
The 42-acre Grounds For Sculpture sculpture park, arboretum, and museum was established by the late artist and benefactor Seward Johnson. Grounds For Sculpture mixes art and nature to surprise, inspire, and engage all visitors in the artist’s act of invention. It features more than 300 modern sculptures by well-known and up-and-coming artists in a captivating landscape. Grounds For Sculpture offers comprehensive educational programs, exciting family events, and rotating special exhibitions in its six indoor galleries in addition to its permanent collection. Grounds For Sculpture, which is now open all year round and is situated in Hamilton, New Jersey, is quickly reachable from the metropolitan centers of New York City and Philadelphia.