The Ghetto Potter

The ceramics of Roberto Lugo pay homage to their classical past but are firmly rooted in the realities of his inner city upbringing.

About Roberto Lugo

I was born in the Kensington neighborhood of Philadelphia. I was my mother’s third child at the age of 21.  Being raised in the 80’s in Philadelphia I was exposed to prevalent drug use and gang activity. The crack epidemic left half of the houses in my neighborhood abandoned. This neighborhood gave very little hope for a future outside of its boundaries. My parents were the first generation of my family to raise their children in the United States.

In an effort to seek the best job he could, my father would drive his bike from Kensington to Cherry Hill, New Jersey every morning. When I sit at a potter’s wheel, I often think of my father’s bike tire spinning, and this metaphor has always had me reach for more.  If he could make that sacrifice for my future, it is up to me to make something of it. I didn’t have any experience with art in high school but took up writing graffiti with my cousins on the streets of Philadelphia. I moved away from Philadelphia and many years later found myself in a community college taking art classes.

After my undergraduate studies, I realized how important it was to share my experiences through presentation as well. In 2011, I had opportunity to speak at the National Council of Education for the Ceramic Arts in Seattle, WA My lecture was entitled “Activism Through Ceramics”.  The following year at the NCECA Conference held in Houston, Texas I delivered another lecture titled “From the Wheel to the Wall”, a presentation on how graffiti relates to ceramics.

Recently, I exhibited my work alongside photographer, Richard Ross. His powerful work has been a catalyst for changing legislation on how juveniles are incarcerated.  This exhibition provides a framework for me to directly engage the community, one such event is a question and answer session with inner city youth, discussing my work as well as my path.

(from artist's website)