An Art Colony Shaped
Peering out Me Like Clay’s fifth story studio one sees views of Downtown LA’s industrial pulse – rows of colorful freight containers perfectly aligned with train tracks zigzagging throughout the area. Further off in the distance the sun slowly sets behind skyscrapers, reflecting an almost ethereal light. The soothing sound of a train whistle in the distance punctuates the serenity of the view. A place like this is nothing short of an artist’s paradise.
Me Like Clay is a Downtown LA collective of ceramic artists Titia Estes, Heather Rosenman and Susan Wong. They are part of Lincoln Heights’ Brewery Art Colony, founded in 1982, comprised of twenty-one industrial warehouses of the former Pabst Blue Ribbon Brewery.
Drawing inspiration from the city and one another, 500-700 artists across all mediums call this creative area home. Estes has been at the Brewery for nearly three decades, witnessing the beginning of the movement and the evolution of Downtown LA. The artists moved in when nobody wanted to live in Downtown, they remained through the city’s ups and downs, helped shape its transformation and have preserved its history while becoming part of it.
The name “Me Like Clay” comes from a primal instinct to make a guttural howl conveying love for one’s work.
Rosenman demonstrates throwing clay, a trade term for working a pottery wheel. The sound of her hands smacking wet clay resonates as she effortlessly spins the shapeless mound into a perfect bowl ready for the kiln.
Inspired by nature and mid-century modern architecture, Rosenman blends past and present with her use of shape and texture. She crafts Crater vases, bottles and other vessels, eye- catching Modpod birdhouses and her Wonder Portals, an interpretation of what she calls “the screens we look at.”
Wong’s collection features beautiful items for outdoor gardens - planters, birdbaths, lanterns and hanging bells with wooden clappers. Also a sustainable gardener, Wong makes ollas, large unglazed pots buried in the ground for irrigation.
Crafting functional and decorative pieces like tableware, jars, bowls and planters, Estes merges her love of desert landscapes with organic shapes, textures and pops of color. Her large vases and pots silhouetted against a sunlit window demand immediate attention.
The artists at Me Like Clay, as well as the other artists at the Colony, show a level of conscientiousness that other artists can appreciate. Whenever they discard unwanted materials, they place them next to, rather than inside the dumpster, so they may be repurposed by someone else because, to a Downtown LA artist, everything has potential.
Find Me Like Clay on Facebook: facebook.com/melikeclay
Written by Luellen Renn