Osa Atoe, a 38-year-old woman from Virginia now living in Louisiana, found a new way to spend her time and express herself here in Baton Rouge: by using pottery.
In 2013, Atoe took up pottery as a new hobby. She began to take community pottery classes in New Orleans and quickly became obsessed, according to her website.
She now spends as much time as she can creating expressive pottery and even set up an at-home studio for her craft in 2015.
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“I actually don’t know what moved me to take my first pottery class,” Atoe said. “I had no idea it would take over my life the way it did.”
Atoe said her favorite pottery creations are items intended for everyday use, such as mugs and bowls. Having an object with a purpose gives Atoe a reason to create it.
“I enjoy making functional objects, mostly because I think the functionality of the piece helps me envision how to even begin it,” said Atoe.
While Atoe makes her own glazes, she leaves a small portion of her pots unglazed to add an “earthy and textural feel.”
Atoe frequently uses Native American and African inspired art in her layout designs, giving her work its distinctive look. Atoe’s parents moved to America from Nigeria on student visas in the ’70s, so her immediate roots are from Africa.
Though she didn’t set out to reflect her family history, it came naturally as she began to create her exceptional pottery.
“Last year, I started making jars with African mask lids, and that kind of set me in the direction of making items that seem specifically African influenced,” she said.
Atoe said that while she isn’t sure what originally inspired her, now that she’s started to use pottery as a creative outlet, she can’t stop finding new designs to use and new items to create.
Also drawing inspiration from folk art, contemporary artists and other crafters, Atoe strives to apply rawness and simplicity to each terracotta piece.
She uses her creations as a form of expression, and the cultural influence from living in America is never-ending.
“Being from the United States, it’s impossible to not have multiple cultural influences,” Atoe said.
She said she is also inspired by the idea of using very simple designs to create something beautiful.
“Getting the most out of using simple line patterns is very compelling to me,” she said. “Using simple patterns that can be tied to many, many different cultures — that’s very inspiring to me.”
The use of simple patterns shows that the need to be extremely artistic isn’t necessary to create striking pottery. Simple designs can make a piece just as lovely as the more advanced designs, Atoe explained.
By stepping out of her comfort zone, Atoe was able to find a new hobby by open-mindedly taking a pottery class.
“It just goes to show that it pays to try new things no matter how old you are,” Atoe said, “Sounds cliché, but that’s because it’s true.”
If you are interested in checking out more of Atoe’s pottery, head to her website, www.potterybyosa.com.