Toshu Lea Kabessa

I encountered clay for the first time when attending Stony Brook University in the late 70s as a Studio Art student. My main interest was sculpture – I always saw the world in 3 dimensions. I explored all available materials, from stone carving to welding metal to casting bronze. Clay was a love at first touch…

Then life got in the way, and for more than twenty years I did not create any art work. I was busy studying and traveling, raising a family, working as an Educational Psychologist, having a successful career as a Data Architect in IT.

In 2003, I moved to Rye and discovered the Clay Art Center. I started playing with clay again and it has pretty much taken over my life. I have since quit my job, set up a ceramic studio at home, and am now dividing my time and my energy between my family and my art work.

My art is mostly sculptural and is almost exclusively hand built. Even when I create functional pieces, they tend to tell a story or suggest a figure (human or animal). I like to explore many techniques and styles and it is difficult to categorize my art. I work with slab constructions, coils, extruded forms, and even some molds. I make wall hangings, standing sculptures, pitchers, platters, and more. I like to use oxide washes, slips, under-glazes and glazes – depending on the piece. I fire most of my work in an electric kiln. Sometimes I raku it or wood fire it. Some of my pieces are well planned and sketched in advance and some start with a piece of clay and no clue.

The only thing all my pieces have in common is the feel of the deep passion I have for the clay and what it does in my hands.

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