Each month we look to celebrate and highlight the stories of amazing women who inspire, and we felt compelled to open with Canadian born ceramic artist Natasha Alphonse. Natasha, originally from Northern Saskatchewan and the Black Lake First Nation Reserve, now works from her lovely, newly built studio located in West Seattle. We were lucky enough to peek into her artist journey, sources of inspiration, and the unique perspectives she brings to the world of ceramics.
When starting your career as an artist, did finding your signature style come naturally? Have you seen your works evolve over time?
What inspires your ceramic creations, and how do your values influence the creative process?
"The core of my inspiration comes from nature, the colours and textures of rocks and water. I am originally from northern Saskatchewan, but now live in the Pacific Northwest. I can see how this place is influencing my aesthetic by working with more rustic oxides and green tones. I think it comes from riding the ferry and seeing all of those colours in the marinas. Being a creator of things, I really value quality and beauty and hope that these objects are seen as adding art to someone's daily life. It is more about surrounding ourselves with objects that bring us joy, moving away from excessive consumerism and being really conscious of supporting creators who have aligned values."
You did a beautiful job building your new studio. Can you share a little about your journey building the new space?
"This past year has been mostly dedicated to the construction of the new studio, and a couple years of planning before that. I feel very fortunate to have had lots of support from friends and family to make this dream a reality. GO'C Studio were the architects who designed the building and construction from Dovetail GC. I didn't have any previous building experience, but was able to assist with most of the construction which was a big learning experience and a lot of fun. It feels special to look around and to know that you helped create this space with your hands. It is still very new to work in this space, I'm slowly getting used to the idea that this is where I get to work now.
As someone with a strong connection to the natural world, are there specific landscapes that hold special meaning for you, and how do they find themselves in your work?
"I can see a visual common thread between everything once I take a step back or look at a larger cross section of what I've made. The colours I am always drawn to, they are from my childhood where we spent a lot of time outdoors. I grew up in Northern Saskatchewan, on one of the biggest lakes in Canada - Lake Athabasca. I have lots of memories of that lake frozen, and the visual impact that would have. This place was so far north that the trees are very small and the rocks become very visually striking with all the lichens. I think the minimal and quiet beauty of that landscape is what I am always striving for in my pottery."
Are there any notable people or artists who have had a significant impact on your artistic journey?
"The people who have had the most influence on my artistic journey would probably be my family. I have a lot of aunts and uncles who are artists themselves, and they always nurtured that part of me growing up, especially my parents. Choosing a career as an artist can be a little scary, it's not very secure but my family has always been there to back me up. I think my life would look a lot different if I didn't have them in my corner."
What do you enjoy doing outside of your ceramic practice and how do you find harmony between your creative pursuits and other aspects of your life?
"We live close to the puget sound, I love how easy it is to get to the water and will usually get a walk in with my two dogs everyday. This part of the world is so special, I spend a lot of time outdoors and find that it's both re-centering and it also inspires me for when I'm back in the studio. It feels like everything is connected, pottery is so utilitarian and part o everyday life. Even sharing meals with friends becomes research in a way, it sparks new ideas of how an object might be used at the table and what other objects you'd like to bring to life."
Discover more of Natasha's work via https://alphonsestudio.com/
Photography by Reva Keller