It’s called “the hand of the artist,” and it’s something visible in every piece created by Brooklyn-based artist Ippolita Ferrari. The expression, which is probably familiar to anyone who studied art in some form or another, means that visible evidence of the artist’s handiwork is present — or in this case, prominent. Because of this intentional aesthetic, every piece by the Italian-born sculptor feels especially personal.
Though Ferrari’s rural Italian roots can be seen in the symbolism and shapes of her handmade ceramic jewelry and housewares, she’s decidedly been influenced by her life in New York as well. Working between Brooklyn and Upstate NY (her atelier is in High Falls) she’s become inextricably connected to her new home. Read on to learn exactly how she’s inspired by where she lives and works, as well as what a day in her studio looks like, and what she can’t work without.
You grew up in Northern Italy. How did your experience there shape you as an artist?
My Italian roots are definitely at the core of my path as an artist. Besides being fortunate enough to study design with some great Italian artists, architects and designers, I grew up surrounded by my country’s history, traditions and beauty. I believe the culture people grow up in, is the essence of who they are, so my taste, aesthetics and conceptual work is very much influenced by that.
Your pieces all feel very lovingly made. Walk us through a day in the studio when you're in creative mode?
All my pieces are made by hand individually so a lot of my time is spent with clay, tools, paints and glazes. I am not much of a planner, so I don’t spend much time sketching or organizing. I make things, then if I like them I go to the next stage. If I don’t, I toss them and make new ones.
In order to start working, I need my space clean and organized; it is almost reflective of the state of my mind. If I don’t have a clear space and clear mind, I cannot produce. Because working with clay is a messy affair, it usually takes time to get a clean slate in order to start working. During that cleaning time, I have time to think about what I want to accomplish for the day.
And what are some of your studio must-haves for getting work done?
Music is definitely a must-have for me. I am a big music lover and cannot work without it. I also listen to podcasts at times, and audiobooks when I am not at the conceptual stage of the work (when I much prefer music). And my dog Serafina is always in the studio with me and keeps me in great company. I love to have her around.
My inspiration comes from the aesthetics and traditions I absorbed growing up in Italy and the visual stimuli of living in Brooklyn and Upstate New York.
How do you describe your work to someone you meet for the first time?
My work is made out of clay, which I find the most elemental, honest, and malleable of materials. There is no fuss about clay, but at the same time, the maker can transform it into anything they want. My jewelry is made out of this primary material, and through labor, becomes something else completely. Each piece is different from the next. My inspiration comes from the aesthetics and traditions I absorbed growing up in Italy and the visual stimuli of living In Brooklyn and Upstate New York.
What inspires you about living and working in New York?
New York, and particularly Brooklyn, is a phenomenal source of inspiration – the people, the multicultural social structure, the culture, the arts, etc. Without the New York component, my work would not look as it does today, as I believe inspiration has to come from different sources in order to produce good work.
Fill in the blanks:
My spirit animal is _____.
If I wasn't making ceramics and jewelry for a living, I’d be _____.
Still working as a graphic designer.
I'm always in search of the perfect _______.
Accessory to complement an outfit.