“I became both the maker and the archaeologist of my own practice. My sculptures are the artifacts from the constant ritual of transformation, visceral witnesses of what happens within. I excavate and interpret them, looking to give meaning to all.” Renata Cassiano Alvarez is a Mexican-Italian artist whose work and process exquisitely capture the unique survival-like relationship art has with time; the piece is a creation of the present moment that has been built upon the foundations of the past and has the ability, although challenging at times, to endure and define the future. Fueled by her passions, Cassiano Alvarez explores the human experience and how to create permanence when “time” is an ever-changing dynamic; “Ceramics to me, embodies the natural vulnerability that exists within all of us, and the tension between ephemerality and endurance”.
Renata Cassiano Alvarez
“Time unmakes us constantly, but with every gesture imprinted we save the now and make it tangible against the imitable march of time. This belief has been present since I first started working with clay, and has persisted and guided me until now”.
Cassiano Alvarez explained that her entry into this industry was due in part to her fascination with clay, but that ceramics, “has always been a part of my family history and of my history as a Latin American”. Her parents have played an integral part in her unique perspective concerning her work; “My practice is deeply informed by my family and my context as a Latin American. Both my parents are archeologists who dedicated their lives to deciphering the remnants of our past. Through this lens, I see the object as survival – objects with a sense of permanence and timelessness. My life has been filled with artifacts from my ancestors, belonging to religious and life rituals, and they are present in my making through form”. Cassiano Alvarez has had the opportunity to learn and work in destinations across the globe, including Mexico, Denmark, the US, and Denmark and her experiences have led her to “the belief that craft is an evolving field and something that exists in motion”. She also works as an interpreter and her passion for languages has been a driving inspiration in her work. She explained that her art allows her to, “explore ideas and experiences around language. As a transnational artist, the ability to move from one language to another is crucial and illuminates the centrality of change within the human experience. In my own life, I have been fascinated by the physical transformations occurring as I adopted English as my primary language for daily use. My curiosity has led me to explore this phenomenon through material. For example, glaze is a surface material, it speaks a very specific language as the skin of the piece. When it is made to be the structure which holds everything together, however, we discover a material with a new sentience. The work is no longer constrained by canon and is empowered by the freedom that the unknown bestows”.
Cassiano Alvarez is an internationally renowned artist and her work has been collected in private and public collections throughout various locations including Germany, Latvia, the US, Slovenia, Estonia, Mexico, Italy, Taiwan and Denmark just to name a few. Her historical, archaeological, and linguistic inspirations have pushed Cassiano Alvarez to explore, “the power of the object as survival – objects with a sense of permanence and timelessness, and language as transformation; specially how adopting a different language can affect the physicality of the human body, and how this translates into material”. While exploring the relationship between art, material use, and time Cassiano Alvarez explained that the, “engagement with craft is vital within my practice. I believe craft is the pursuit of an intimate relationship with material that is dynamic, and which allows for the grounding of self to our own existence through our actions with material. Time unmakes us constantly, but with every gesture imprinted we save the now and make it tangible against the imitable march of time. This belief has been present since I first started working with clay, and has persisted and guided me until now”.
Cassiano Alvarez creates truly visionary work and her unique perspective about art is undoubtedly a key tool in her beautifully fantastic creations. During her international travels and studies, Cassiano Alvarez encountered many mentors, but she explained that, “I think the best challenge a mentor ever posed was to be generous. I worked with Nina Hole, the Danish artist, for many years. She showed me and the people around her endless generosity and kindness. I know I have failed in this many times, but I strive to do better every day”. She hopes that her work and her story act as inspirations to others, and said that, “I hope to inspire other artists, in particular Latin American artists, to follow their own voice and make the work they want to make. Not what they think is expected. My advice is to be patient. Finding and developing your own path takes time. And determination. And many mistakes”. Making mistakes and diving into the unknown are some of the things that Cassiano Alvarez attributes to her success, and said that, “I have found that I grow more as an artist when I face unknown or uncertain situations. When I have to get into a discomfort zone and figure things out. Those are my breakthrough moments”. These “breakthrough moments” are some of Cassiano Alvarez’s favorites, and she explained that, “There are many pieces I have made that have represented a breakthrough moment for my personal growth. Usually what I am working on at the moment is what excites me the most, because I am getting to know it, it is still unknown to me”. With the unknown comes an aspect of trial-and-error, or as Cassiano Alvarez put it “many mistakes”. However, these are important moments in the process, and Cassiano Alvarez said she would challenge other artists by asking them, “Have you failed? Failure is an important part of learning”. Renata Cassiano Alvarez is using her unique perspective to artistically showcase the human experience in terms of language, material, and time in ways that captivate viewers. Her pieces are mesmerizing and evoke a sense of fantastical wonder about what this artist will show the industry next. While the audience lies in wait for her next breathtaking works, there is no doubt among them that whatever she creates will stand the test of time.
Educational/Personal Growth Opportunity“I hope to inspire other artists, in particular Latin American artists, to follow their own voice and make the work they want to make. Not what they think is expected. My advice is to be patient. Finding and developing your own path takes time. And determination. And many mistakes.”
“Have you failed? Failure is an important part of learning.”