Solo exhibition Roberto Lugo at The Cincinnati Art Museum

Paper Weight II (detail), 2022, Roberto Lugo (Puerto Rican American, b. 1981), glazed stoneware, luster, Courtesy of the artist. © Roberto Lugo. Photographs by Ashley Smith, courtesy of the artist and R & Company.

CINCINNATI — February 6, 2023 — The Cincinnati Art Museum will present artist, educator and poet Roberto Lugo during a seven-month solo exhibition Roberto Lugo: Hi Def Archives March 17–September 24, 2023. 

Lugo will be in residence at the Cincinnati Art Museum from March 17−24 during which he will create contemporary pottery in conjunction with his finished works. The exhibition will present selections chosen by the artist from the museum’s collection as he examines intersections of community, place and identity in his practice and in Cincinnati’s Rookwood Pottery’s legacy. 

Photo by Ryan Collerd, Courtesy of the Pew Center for Arts and Heritage

Lugo (Puerto Rican-American, b. 1981) draws from his lived experience and deep knowledge of ceramic history to create works that elevate the stories and communities who have been overlooked in the historical record of art making. Lugo’s multicultural mashups often combine classic forms and patterns with elements of hip-hop. 

“As a potter,” Lugo explains, “I aim to carry on the ceramic tradition in a manner that honors the culture and community I come from.” 

Lugo was raised in the Kensington neighborhood of Philadelphia, an area marked by community vitality yet lack of opportunity to achieve upward economic mobility or access to artistic outlets. At the age of 25, he enrolled in his first pottery class. Today, he leads the ceramic department at Temple University in Philadelphia, and his art resides in the collections of the most prestigious art institutions in the country, including the Cincinnati Art Museum. When he is not teaching or creating, Lugo returns to neighborhoods with a potter’s wheel emblazoned with the words, “This machine kills hate.” Taking his art to the street, he uses clay and his wheel to teach others how to throw pots, break down cultural and social biases and encourage the possibility that anyone can choose and achieve their dreams.

Bootsy Collins and Kathryne Gardette Teapot, 2022, Roberto Lugo (Puerto Rican American, b.1981), glazed stoneware, luster, Courtesy of the artist. © Roberto Lugo. Photographs by Ashley Smith, courtesy of the artist and R & Company.

“We are thrilled to welcome artist Roberto Lugo to Cincinnati,” states exhibition curator Amy Miller Dehan. “In his highly skilled practice and with his vibrant works of art, Lugo aspires to create universal access to the arts; to document and include those who have traditionally been excluded; and to bring hope, purpose and a sense of belonging to all—goals that guide the museum’s own mission to inspire people and connect Cincinnati communities.” 

Rookwood in Hi-Def, 2022, Roberto Lugo (Puerto Rican-American, b. 1981), glazed porcelain, Cincinnati Art Museum: The Nancy and David Wolf Collection, 2021.200. © Roberto Lugo

The exhibition is presented by FEG and sponsored by Capital One with additional support provided by GBBN and LPK. The exhibition will be on view in the Sara M. and Michelle Vance Waddell Gallery and the Manuel and Rhoda Mayerson Gallery (Galleries 124 and 125) across from the Terrace Café. No tickets are required. General admission to the museum is also free. Photography is encouraged, but no flash. On social media, use the hashtag #RobertoLugo. 

Exhibition overview: Roberto Lugo: Hi-Def Archives features recent works by Lugo and, for a limited time, the artist himself. Beginning March 17, Lugo will work in residency at the museum, creating ceramics in a gallery adjacent to the display of his finished works. Lugo intends the exhibition “to be both homage to the village that raised me up and the legacy of Rookwood Pottery.” Showing his work in conversation with selections from the museum’s Rookwood collection, Lugo examines intersections of community, place and identity, celebrating the rich craft history of Cincinnati while simultaneously recontextualizing the impact of ceramics as contemporary cultural objects that honor all of us. 

The exhibition will feature prominently as part of the National Council on Education for the Arts (NCECA) conference in Cincinnati between March 15–18, 2023.