LEAP Finalist: Nicole Aquillano


You might remember Nicole Aquillano from when she was our resident artist this summer; she is back as our November LEAP artist! Her architectural drawings are etched into stunning blue and white dishware, and she’s made an exclusive line for us featuring some of our favorite Pittsburgh landmarks.

Her work is available in our store through January 16, 2015, and you can also order custom work online.

We asked her a few questions her about her creative process:

Contemporary Craft (CC): Tell us about your work.

Nicole Aquillano (NA): I make porcelain tableware with inlaid architectural drawings. I use my photographic collection as reference for my inlaid drawings. I really like the idea that the use of these specific places on functional pieces, which are already inclined to create a physical bond, helps create a strong emotional connection with people as well.


CC: Tell us about your training/education/special mentors.

NA: I have undergraduate degrees in mathematics (Carlow University) and civil engineering (Carnegie Mellon). When I was in undergrad at Carlow, I took a clay class with Dale Huffman and fell in love with clay. From that moment on I knew that I wanted to be a potter. It just took me a few (8 or so) years to finally quit my engineering career and go earn my MFA in ceramics from Rhode Island School or Design.

CC: Why were you drawn to clay/ceramics?

NA: I’m drawn to the immediacy of clay. It is such a primal material, I was instantly connected.


CC: What inspires you?

NA: I am inspired by the structures I see around me everyday. I am also inspired by my past experiences, especially by my longing for home (just outside of Pittsburgh).

CC: What’s the best pieces of advice you’ve received as a new artist?

NA: Always apply, you never know.


CC: What advice to you have for others considering a career in the arts?

NA: “If you work hard enough at something, it’s bound to happen.” This is advice I was given by my mentor Dale Huffman, which helped get me where I am today.