“My art reflects what I love and how I feel”. When you think of fun, modern, pop-culture infused ceramics, few artists come to mind quite as much as New Have, CT artist Avé Rivera. With fun aesthetics and adorable characters, Rivera’s work has taken social media by storm and she has built an incredible following across her platforms. When speaking to her current inspirations, Rivera said, “Most of my work today features one of three things: feelings, pop culture, or clouds.” With bounds of creativity, Rivera finds it difficult to limit herself to 1 inspiration or aesthetic, and instead prefers to work in series. While her work seems very fun and bright, she often takes from real-life emotions and inspirations, and her work is meant to express these in a humorous and relatable way; “An ongoing series has been faces and blobs, which touch on themes of anxiety with a dose of humor and levity. I love using blobs as a form to communicate ideas because they’re adorable, simple, and relatable. They’ve become my favorite little characters!”

Avé Rivera

“I maintain a social media presence in the hopes of inspiring others who also want to be an artist, especially women of color. This was the primary reason I started a YouTube channel, to share a peek into what running an artist business looks like.”

Rivera’s path to ceramics hasn’t been a straight shot. While she’s always been artistic, she didn’t settle on ceramics as a concentration until nearly halfway through her collegiate journey; “Going into college, I knew that I wanted to do something artistic and one day work for myself. Originally, I thought I was going to do graphic design and quickly realized I don’t want to be at a desk all day. Then I thought maybe metalwork (jewelry), or art education. Once I took my first ceramics class, however, I fell in love with the medium and knew this was it.” Once she discovered her passion for ceramics, Rivera continued pursuing this artform and said she, “received my bachelors from Southern Connecticut State University in 2014, where I focused on and fell in love with sculptural ceramics. I decided to keep going and continued on to UMass Dartmouth for a post baccalaureate in ceramics.”  Rivera might have found ceramics in college, but she explained that the nomadic lifestyle normally associated with ceramics in academia, including bouncing around the globe for different residencies, wasn’t something she wanted for herself. However, veering from the norm presented its own set of challenges, including finding a space to continue creating after finishing her post-baccalaureate. Rivera took these challenges in stride and found a way to continue pursuing her dreams and developing her craft; “My friend had a kiln in his garage, so a few of us converted his garage into a communal workspace. Once I was in a position to do so, I set up a home studio and it feels like one of my biggest accomplishments.”
Rivera started her business in 2016 and said she, “hopped from market to fair to festival to sell my ceramics, all while building up my online presence. I’ve shown in galleries, been featured in magazines, wholesaled to boutiques, and collaborated with small businesses along the way. In 2019, I was able to make this my full-time gig.” Avé Rivera is proof that there is no single “right way” to follow your dreams and that opportunities for success are open to all who have the drive to work hard to obtain them. She has established an amazing online presence across social media including Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, TikTok, and YouTube and has a huge following. While her media presence does highlight her work, Rivera says it’s also been an amazing platform to use for community building. When asked about her favorite contribution to the ceramics world she described her AMACO Instagram Takeover from 2020; “It was a way to share some inspiration and knowledge (in the age of quarantine) in a modern, fun, accessible way. I hosted two live streams and it was a great community moment. I’m hoping to continue building community on my own platforms in a similar format.”

Her social media also acts as a platform through which Rivera hopes to inspire others and bring more visibility to women of color in the industry. Rivera said, “I maintain a social media presence in the hopes of inspiring others who also want to be an artist, especially women of color. This was the primary reason I started a YouTube channel, to share a peek into what running an artist business looks like. It was only later in my career that I found other ceramic artists who look like me, and being an artist wasn’t an “encouraged” career choice. It’s easier to pursue this path when you see examples of those with a similar background as you in the field.” Rivera speaks to real issues including the lack of visibility of artists of color in the industry but, more importantly, she is actively using her presence and platforms to create change regarding those issues.

Rivera commented on how lucky she was to have the supportive mentors she did in her collegiate career and credited them with helping her push her work even farther; “My professors in undergrad challenged me to keep refining the details. The finishing stage of a piece was never my favorite, but those tiny details are what pushed my work to another level”. This is advice that she hopes to impart on other artists as well. When asked about what she would want to tell emerging artists she said, “advice I would give artists is to not be afraid to fail; don’t fear making bad art. It’s all a part of the process. I’d challenge them to finish a “failed” or “bad” piece of art and see where it takes you”. Rivera’s journey has been amazing thus far and she’s shown that talent and dedication are the most important tools for success within the industry. Avé Rivera is an inspirational role model for many, and her creativity and ability to produce amazing work knows no bounds.

Educational/Personal Growth Opportunity

“Advice I would give to artists is to not be afriad to fail; don’t fear making bad art.  It’s all a part of the process.”
Now it’s your turn to be challenged:
“I’d challenge them to finish a “failed” or “bad” piece of art and see where it takes you.” Revisit a piece you thought wasn’t worth the time or wasn’t going anywhere and look at it with a fresh perspective – see where you can go with it now.