Roberto Lugo, 2019 Pew Fellow. Photo by Jewel Leah, courtesy of Wexler Gallery.
“My ambition is to participate in a culturally rich community that celebrates difference. I want to live and work in spaces where people think and make in wildly different ways…I believe it is my role as an artist to aid in creating [these spaces.]”
Roberto Lugo is a visual artist whose ceramic works draw from historical forms of decorative art and contemporary iconography. Lugo explains, “I research objects made by royal porcelain manufacturers and then recreate and recontextualize them by featuring people of color on these precious objects, to celebrate the lives and histories that have created opportunity for people of color today.” In a 2018 solo exhibition at Baltimore’s Walters Art Museum, Lugo paid homage to this idea through works exploring the under-recognized histories latent in the museum’s collection of antique porcelain. The first ceramist to win a Rome Prize from the American Academy in Rome, Lugo will soon begin work on a project titled Valor in Vandalism: a Revolutionary Triptych, which will entail the recreation of a 177-piece dinner set owned by Napoleon, to be used at public dinner parties hosted in Rome and Philadelphia. Lugo’s work is held in the collections of the Philadelphia Museum of Art, National Museum of African American History and Culture, Brooklyn Museum, and Los Angeles County Museum of Art, among others. He has been awarded funding from the National Endowment for the Arts, as well as a Peter S. Reed Fellowship, a Barr Fellowship (administered through United States Artists), and an Emerging Artist Award from the National Council on Education for the Ceramic Arts. Lugo is an assistant professor and program head of ceramics at Temple University’s Tyler School of Art and Architecture and holds an MFA from Penn State University.