Surface Texture: Lydia Loy-Santelli in the Studio

September 28, 2018 by

Women’s Studio Workshop enjoyed a chat with Chili Bowl Workspace Resident Lydia Loy-Santelli about her path to ceramics, what inspires her, and advice for emerging artists. Read a bit of our conversation below!

WSW You grew up with artists in the family, started learning photography, then fell in love with clay. Are there clear moments that you remember in choosing this path as an artist?

LLS I was very much against the idea of having a career in the arts all the way through high school. My first semester of sophomore year at Goucher College, I started to realize how much more excited and inspired I was by my drawing, photography and painting classes. That was when I first began discussing with my parents the idea of transferring to art school. Once I really began exploring my creative side at Maine College of Art, I quickly decided I wanted to have a career in the arts and follow in my parents footsteps.

WSW How do you find your voice in a medium where so many artists use the same tools and techniques?

LLS I think it’s important to look at artists that inspire you, both in and especially out of your field, and then find out which artists inspire them. I also don’t think finding your “voice” is a quick and simple process, and I honestly don’t believe I have fully found mine yet. Since first taking a ceramics class, I have discovered textures, forms and styles of ceramic work that I find visually pleasing and I try to incorporate those different aspects into my own pieces. I realized early on that during any stage in the ceramic process the work may not end up looking the way it was initially intended, but nonetheless you can learn from each piece you make and it may end up sending your work in a whole different direction.

WSW You guest-taught for the Surface Exploration class here at WSW. What characteristic of ceramic art do you believe is important to share with participating artists?

LLS In ceramics, I think it’s a good thing to understand that your work isn’t precious, even though it may feel as though it is, especially when first starting out. There are so many moments in ceramics where something goes wrong or a piece doesn’t end up coming out as intended–but that’s okay and it’s not the end of the world, just make another one!

WSW From your 2015 Stonington series to now–and all the work in between–you have experimented with a variety of natural colors and textures. What is currently catching your eye?

LLS I am currently on a search for my perfect clay body/glaze combination. This was something I started briefly exploring during my residency at WSW. Since I just recently moved to Asheville, NC, I haven’t had access to a studio yet but will be getting back into clay at the beginning of October and am looking forward to exploring (and carving) a dark red clay body covered with a satin white glaze. The pieces I am envisioning are definitely going to be reminiscent of my Stonington series, yet I am curious and very excited to see how my time in Asheville will cause my new work to differ.   

WSW What advice do you have for emerging women artists?

LLS Don’t be afraid to explore and experiment with things that might seem out of the box. I once told my teacher I wanted to attempt to fire my wisdom teeth into a couple of mugs and I learned quite a lot from that fun, albeit weird, project. Embrace all critiques and constructive criticism – don’t fight it, talk back or argue, just listen and try to grow from what is being said, take notes if you have to. And lastly, when you feel down on yourself and your work, and cannot imagine how in the world you’re going to make it as an artist, try to remember that you’re not alone and self-promotion is your friend, as much as it may feel awkward and unnatural.

Lydia Loy-Santelli grew up in an artistic household where she was exposed to a creative lifestyle and many hours in galleries and museums. Her grandparents are painters, her father a fine art photographer, and mother a graphic designer and painter. Lydia’s initial intention was to pursue a career in medicine, which slowly faded when she took several fine art courses at Goucher College and realized how much she genuinely enjoyed the creative arts which inspired her transfer to Maine College of Art in Portland, Maine. She graduated with her BFA in Ceramics in May 2016.