Meet The Artist Whose Sculptural Pottery Is More Inspired Than Ever

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A woman resting a pot on one arm

Recently Raleigh transplant Shanique Lashawna has strengthened her ceramics practice since moving south from Brooklyn.

After a lifetime in Brooklyn, self-taught ceramicist Shanique Lashawna decamped to Raleigh, North Carolina, sight unseen in mid-2020 with dreams of fresh scenery and a slower pace of life. What she found was an environment heavily influenced by landscape, an art scene deeply entwined with folk-art traditions and a breadth of diversity she’d never anticipated. “I feel more inspired and more in touch with myself here than I ever had before in New York,” notes the Southern newcomer.

Lately, that liberation has manifested as mostly hand-built, sculptural pottery that emerges from a freestyle process Lashawna describes as “a flow of consciousness.” Using Spanish sourced sculpting clay is key not just to certain pieces’ sturdy appearance, but also their tactile texture, with a porosity that might draw comparisons to pumice. “The clay is really groggy; it’s not the type to just throw on the wheel because it will fall apart,” she explains.

Brushed 22-karat gold details hint at her family’s Jamaican heritage—as well as her ancestors from Africa’s Ivory Coast—bringing a painterly dimension to everything from wide-mouth vessels for cut flowers to book-topping objets.

On the artist’s future wish list? A full tabletop collection, but also more social achievements: “I’m inspired by women, particularly Black women,” she says. “I like looking at our progress and what our future holds—because it’s so big and bright.

A sculptural ceramic vessel against a neutral backdrop

Lashawna’s hand-built ceramics feature sculptural silhouettes, textured surfaces and, frequently, 22-karat gold details.

PHOTOS BY JENN HALL SWEATTE