We had the good fortune of connecting with Lydia Kardos and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Lydia, we’d love to hear more about how you thought about starting your own business?
Clay kind of fell into my hands and I never stopped sculpting. How I reach my audience and have an engaged conversation is an organic and intuitive process. Navigating art as a business has been a long ride with many twists and turns. To say “I love clay.” is an understatement. Ceramics is a ‘shoe fits’ moment for me, it just fits and so comfortably. Where I am today is cumulative of many events, training, risks, and exploration. I have been zigzagging through life creatively for quite some time. I was introduced to ceramics at Mass College of Art where I was part of a dual enrollment program while attending the Boston Arts Academy as a visual arts major in high school. I had the opportunity to explore many mediums including photography which I later majored in at The School of Visual Arts in New York City. There I earned my BFA and went on to work in the industry for many years. Art became a job. I learned a lot about multitasking and organizing a workload to complete a project. There I was wearing many hats to run the business side of things. The creative aspect of production was thrilling but the commercial aspect offered little freedom of expression. I was lacking a connection personally to the experience so I decided to orchestrate a way out.
In my restlessness I revisited my love for magical realism. In-studio I would listen to music, mostly in Spanish, which I would then translate. The beauty of the language lead me back to my passion for Latin American art & literature. My love for magical realism took over my love of the grind. I sold all of my belongings and moved to Mexico. This journey forever changed me, to be able to let go and follow your heart and to transform a dream into a goal.
I eventually found myself in New Mexico and then back in New York City. All of these moves in life came with calculated risks and preparation. The experiences of these places and moments in my life have all been carried with me, each making a mark. These places and my life in them, I see as large stepping stones and the path a darted zig zag like a complex dance diagram.
In the chaos of New York City, I needed an outlet for creation other than freelancing. I found a ceramic studio that had been calling to me every time I passed its turquoise doors. It was a defining moment in my artistic career as I found my voice, spending all of my free time sculpting, exploring glazes and their chemistry, and working without limitations. I was finally making art for myself in a stream of consciousness, no deadlines, no client or boss’s approval, no direction other than my imagination. It had also been a dream of mine to move to California and leave the cold city. Many years later, the pandemic hit, presenting an opportunity to make the move. Since then, I have been working full time in ceramics teaching and creating my own line of functional pieces and sculptures.
The process of starting my business as an artist is much like my creative process. I weave and collage what I know, feel, and experience into what I am doing. My work as a visual artist and the contrast of living in NYC, Mexico, and California have greatly contributed to my sculptural voice and impacted my visual language. I carry painterly aspects in my glaze work with mark making, impasto, and scumbling techniques. Surface design, texture, and more importantly color are a constant for describing objects, spaces, and telling stories. I am very much a hoarder of things in my studio and can always find a second use for discarded materials. It is this way of looking at objects as useful that has influenced my functional work.
For me, risk and curiosity produce a thrill in my making. There is the pleasure in exploration which chemistry and the limitless possibilities of clay has to offer. Taking risks in studio with creative experimentation means that boredom ceases to exist. The challenge to translate ideas and form into functional pieces is an enjoyable game for my art making. I enjoy finding and making connections -to spaces, ideas, experiences and ultimately to other people by being able to share these functional pieces with them. In this way my pieces are given life and the viewer is always engaged.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
My work in photography, exploring narratives through imagery, color composition, and the female form as well as my work in painting and drawing have contributed to my sculptural voice. The contrasts of living in New York City, Mexico and California have greatly impacted my visual language. A conversation of home, surroundings, and connection to these spaces can be seen in mark making, impasto and scumbling techniques in my glaze work as well as surface design, texture, and more importantly color. The importance and inspiration of magical realism is apparent in my describing of objects and spaces as my ceramics tell stories with texture, color, abstract shapes, and biomorphic forms. Exaggerated and vivid colors are a constant in describing my objects as characters, undulating in form, lush with texture, I invite the viewer to an intimate space between two worlds of the present and fantasy. My most recent exhibitions were in Boston, MA, New York, NY, and Brooklyn, NY.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
Surfing! But I won’t tell you my favorite spot ( thats’s a secret)! I live at the beach and if my hands aren’t deep in clay, I am out in the water. I love to be outside in nature so it would be a lot of beach picnics, bonfires and burritos in San Diego!
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
Thank you to Denise Korn for being a wonderful mentor for many years, Nadeige Choplet and Steffanie Dotson for providing amazing creative spaces and creative communities.