Bright Raven Studio

Bright Raven Studio

About The Artist

Gabriela Margarita De Jesus • New Haven, CT

I am an Afro-Latina ceramicist in New England creating small-batch and functional ceramics inspired by everyday rituals. My current work combines ceramics and my background working in analog photography. These are bowls and mugs that begin as wheel thrown forms, have blue underglaze painted the surface, and are then carved by hand. They are inspired by the photographic process of cyanotypes or “sun printing”. Each piece features a unique botanical motif.


Artist website

Q&A with the Artist

Tell us how your work is made.

Many of my pieces begin as a form thrown and trimmed by hand on the potter's wheel. Once a piece reaches the leather hard state, I then begin exploring various forms of surface decoration by adding textures, drawing, or carving the pots directly. At this stage, I am already thinking of the pieces final color and how a particular glaze might break over the texture or pattern I am creating. The pieces are then fired for the first time, in the bisque firing. Once the pieces are bisque, most decisions have been made and all that is left is the glazing of the pieces. My ceramic pieces are functional and meant to be used every day and so I use colorful glaze combinations that are food safe while also taking care that they highlight the textures I create. I am drawn to vibrant glazes, such as with my cosmic inspired collection, or with bold color combinations as in my color-block series. For the most intricately carved pieces however, I often find that a single glaze can provide enough variety as it pools and runs over the surface of a piece to create a more understated and elegant finish.

What makes you passionate about the medium you work with?

I love working with clay because it is such an inviting and grounding medium. As a process, working in ceramics has many rituals and a certain rhythm built in already. It is also a very iterative process, and I am constantly learning with every new piece. The different stages of a pot naturally lead you from one decision to the next so that you can easily slip into a meditative flow as a maker. I also appreciate that ceramics has allowed me to create artworks that double as functional objects and that will be used every day. When I'm working on pieces, I am constantly thinking of how the pieces will feel in the hands of the people that will use them. It's humbling and comforting to know that a piece will have its own life cycle long after it's left my hands.

What is something unique about you or your practice?

Something unique or unexpected about my work is the way I combine my background in analog photography with clay and by creating tableware inspired by the 20th century photographic process of cyanotypes or sun prints. The mugs and bowls are wheel thrown forms that are then decorated through a process of brushing blue underglaze onto a leather hard pot. Using a sgraffito technique, I scratch out various flowers, leaves, and other botanicals by hand to expose the underlying white clay body.