Mexican-born Kansas-based potter Alba Laredo fuses her passion for culture and pottery

Photography by Barrett Emke.

Born in Oaxaca, Mexico, Alba Laredo moved to Kansas when she was just two years old. Soon, she began excelling in the arts, dabbling in every art form and entering competitions at six years old. 

Now, Laredo primarily focuses on ceramics, mixing her proud Mexican heritage with her designs, which she sells at Monarca Art Space, pop-up shows at Third Friday Art Walk in KCK and Art Garden KC at Berkley Riverfront.

When did you first realize you have a passion for art? Ever since I was little, my mom collected these artworks that I made in elementary school. I was always very artistic, and my talents were getting better, so I started going into competitions. But I feel like I discovered pottery in my college career at Wayne State during my senior exhibition. My exhibition basically had to be everything—all the kinds of media that I studied, everything about me as an artist and how I grew. 

How do you feel that your culture and background are reflected in your art? I want to represent my own community, as well as those who are first generation and going through the struggle of being an immigrant. I want to represent the young people my age that are going through a lot. That art can be what expresses their story, their emotion. I also like to represent myself in my artwork. Because I’m a Latina and I’m a thicker woman, I like to express the body in a way to allow these imperfections—I like to use body sculptures in my work. I like to make things that are useful in the kitchen, too, like the salsa bowls with spoons. I know others will draw on these memories of family time together in the kitchen.

Photography by Barrett Emke.

What are your biggest influences on your pottery? My Latin culture, because I’d like to continue to tell my story as an immigrant and being first generation. I loved the messiness, but also I love the imperfection of pottery. In Oaxaca, they don’t use a pottery wheel. They do everything by hand and they use clay from the ground. They tell beautiful stories. They like to use organic materials. I love the organic feeling and the texture. My culture was using pottery to tell their story. I’m a very visual person. I really don’t like speaking in front of people. I just would love for my artwork and what my hands create to tell the story of how I’m feeling. I like to express my emotions with color, with imperfections.  

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