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APSU welcomes sculptural ceramicist for student workshops, public event

By: Kara Zahn February 9, 2024

Natalia Arbelaez's work explores familial traditions, cultural preservation, exploration and genetic memory.
Ceramicist Natalia Arbelaez's work explores concepts such as familial traditions, cultural preservation, exploration and genetic memory.

CLARKSVILLE, Tenn. - Austin Peay State University’s Department of Art Design, with support from The Center of Excellence for the Creative Arts, will welcome Colombian American figurative ceramicist Natalia Arbelaez to continue the 2023-24 CECA Visiting Artist Speaker Series. 

Arbelaez will give a public lecture about her ceramic sculptures and creative practice at 6 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 21, in Heydel Hall, located in the Art + Design Building Room 120. 

Natalia Arbelaez's work. "Arbelaez’s work tells narratives about her Colombian family’s immigration, her pre-Colombian South American heritage and her American latchkey, after-school cartoon-filled childhood in whimsical yet poignant works of art,” said Michael Dickins, chair of the Visiting Artist Speaker Committee. “[She] mines tidbits from historical research, familial narratives and cartoon culture to create surreal stories in clay much the way Gabriel García Márquez did with words.” 

Through her artistry, Arbelaez also engages in cultural and historical research to shine a light on often overlooked communities.  

“The making of her work reveals undervalued histories from Latin American, Amerindian and women of color often lost through conquest, migration and time,” Dickins said. “She regains her associated identities through familial traditions, cultural preservation, exploration and genetic memory. This process has allowed Arbelaez to find value in her history and to preserve and honor her culture through her work.” 

In addition to her public lecture, Arbelaez will conduct studio visits and a ceramics workshop to benefit Austin Peay students during her time on campus. As part of her artistic practice, she also creates experimental videos that combine surrealist dance performances and South Beach house beats – further exploring her Colombian and Miami roots. Her videos will be part of <terminal> gallery's February programming, located in the first-floor stairwell of the Art+Design Building. 

For more information on this lecture, contact Dickins at dickinsm@apsu.edu. To learn about future CECA Visiting Artist Speaker Series events, visit https://www.apsu.edu/art-design/exhibitions-speakers/visiting-artists.php. All events are free and open to the public, and attendees of all ages are welcome.  

Natalia Arbelaez's work.About Natalia Arbelaez: 

Natalia Arbelaez is a Colombian American artist, born and raised in Miami, Florida to immigrant parents. She received her Bachelor of Fine Arts from Florida International University and her Master of Fine Arts from The Ohio State University, with an Enrichment Fellowship. In 2016-17, she was a Rittenberg Fellow at the Clay Art Center in Port Chester, New York, and was awarded the Inaugural Artaxis Fellowship that funded a residency to Watershed in Newcastle, Maine. 

Her work has been exhibited internationally, displayed in museums and galleries, and included in various collections, such as the Everson Museum, MAD Museum, Fuller Museum and The ICA Miami. She has been recognized by the prestigious National Council on Education for the Ceramic Arts (NCECA) as a 2018 Emerging Artist and was a 2018-19 resident artist at the Ceramics Program at Harvard University, where she researched pre-Columbian art and histories. Natalia was an artist in residence at the Museum of Art and Design in New York City, where she researched the work of historical and influential women ceramicists of color and continued this research as a 2021 and 2023 Visiting Artist at AMOCA in Pomona, California. 

She lives and works in the Mid-Hudson Valley region in New York. Learn more about Natalia Arbelaez by visiting her website.