June 9, 2023 | By Carolyn Brown Treadon, Ph.D., ATR-BC, ATCS and Brian Tepper, ATR-BC, ATCS, LCAT, AATA 2023 Conference Committee Members
“This passion, openness, action to build community, connect with people less fortunate and to use the arts and the creative process to help others is what we as art therapists do every day.”
Roberto Lugo has been on the radar of the Conference Committee for several years—and we are thrilled that he has agreed to be a part of this year’s AATA conference! Today, we want to take a moment to tell you a little more about him and his work.
Mr. Lugo is a Philadelphia-based artist, ceramicist, social activist, poet, and educator. He began his career as a graffiti artist before finding ceramics. Facing discrimination as a Puerto Rican student when he attended the Kansas City Art Institute, he reflected that “every single day people, would stop me and ask if they could see my ID. They didn’t believe that I was a student.” Countless times, he was told that he was out of place. Instead, he infuses his lived experiences into his work. A self-described “ghetto potter,” he uses traditional ceramic materials and shapes to highlight themes of poverty, inequality, and racial injustice. He reimagines traditional European and Asian ceramics, adding a 21st-century street sensibility.
As a committee, we were particularly impressed not only with Mr. Lugo’s development from graffiti artist to potter, but his incredible work with the community as well. A distinguished academic and artist, he continues to remain focused on what brought him to the arts: His ability to connect with the community.
He often brings his wheel to the streets, which is quite impressive!
Roberto Lugo >
It was a personal experience last year, that solidified our choice. Mr. Lugo did a residency at the Grounds for Sculpture in Hamilton Township, New Jersey and provided workshops. A colleague was at Grounds for Sculpture with several students when they saw him in a locked space. They inquired if they could just meet him for a brief moment. Instead Mr. Lugo warmly invited them in and spoke with them for over an hour. This passion, openness, action to build community, connect with people less fortunate and to use the arts and the creative process to help others is what we as art therapists do every day.
On behalf of the 2023 Conference Committee, we hope you are as excited as we are to welcome Roberto Lugo to AATA2023 in San Diego! Please check out Mr. Lugo’s Instagram page and learn more about the conference and register here.