Quick Sketch: Seven Questions for Orestes
My art is to represent everything as much as I can in high texture.
What is your favorite art medium?
Clay. Then once I fire it, it becomes ceramic.
When did you learn how to work with clay and ceramic?
I was going to take a class in English literature, but the class was canceled. Then I saw a classroom where students were working with clay. The teacher asked me, “Do you want to join this class?” And that’s how I started (laughs). It was an accident.
What was your first piece of artwork?
It was a 28-by-30 slab cut into irregular pieces in the design of a bird. I finished that piece with a form of firing called raku, and it came out spectacularly because of the different sizes and the different colors. It was exhibited in the Miami Art Center, and immediately I had a buyer. But I didn’t sell it. Later on, I sold it to a woman that was so in love with this piece—finally, I thought, I’ve found the right person for it.
When did you first realize you were an artist?
I don’t feel as if I’m an artist. I feel like I do what I like to do, and I enjoy doing it.
Who mentored you as you developed your artistic style?
Juanita May. She was an authority on clay in the United States, a teacher and the director of the art school at the University of Miami. I took a class with her, and she asked me to enroll in the second one. But money was sort of scarce at that time. She said: “Don’t worry, I’ll make you my assistant.
What gives you the inspiration to create something?
That’s a very common question I get, and it’s hard to answer. I get the feeling that when I am creating my work, the inspiration isn’t coming from my mind. I feel like there is something else that is directing my everything. You feel more like a vehicle. It’s some inspiration that is not really in your control.
interview and photos by Laura McNamara