By Irene de Jesus Obligacion
Alyssa Kangleon is a ceramic artist whose pieces celebrate femininity and sculptures. In her works, she also explores the relationship between community and carework, as humans deal with social, economic and environmental uncertainty.
Alyssa graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Broadcast Communication from the University of the Philippines (UP) College of Mass Communications in 2019. Simultaneously, she took Wheel Throwing Pottery and Handbuilding Ceramics from the UP College of Fine Arts Ceramic Studio from 2017 to 2018.
How did you become a ceramic artist?
I found ceramics during a challenging time in my life while struggling with my thesis and university graduation. It feels trivial now, but in those days it was comforting and encouraging to see my pottery get more refined the more time I spent in the studio. It gave me a sense of control. I eventually learned that the art of making ceramics is an exercise in letting go of control. Ceramics gave me the space to express myself, and I was lucky to have people interested in some of my work enough to buy them. I only ever really wanted to keep making ceramics and would take odd jobs to be able to afford more time in the studio. Thankfully, the support I received from people has enabled me to build my home studio and has allowed me to expand into other possibilities.
Was there a time you couldn’t produce anything? How did you overcome it?
I’ve come to realize that every time I feel stuck, it means I’ve chafed against my thoughts for too long. Now I take it as an invitation to do something physical to ground me into my body. I love going on walks. It’s incredibly humbling to witness the trees achieve stillness while persistently evolving. I also have a lot of other hobbies like birding, reading, foraging, pickling, cooking, drawing, and making prints. These are the things that make up my days and they often find their way into my ceramic practice as well. Making ceramics is also something that grounds me, it just doesn’t feel that way sometimes when I think about it too much. But once I start working with the clay again, I’m reminded of its calm and malleable nature and I feel possible again.
What do you hope to achieve five years from now through your art form?
I hope to be able to represent my interests and advocacies in a more timely manner. At the moment I’m finally producing work that aligns with my love for native plants, but that’s an interest I have held for three years. I have a tendency to keep things to myself and let ideas ferment, and perhaps that is just my process, but I hope to practice a little more urgency.
At the end of the day, what puts a smile on your face?
In the mornings, I buy fruits to put in the fridge that I may later enjoy at the end of the day. I often think about the fruit’s journey and feel immense gratitude that somebody tended to the tree that produced it, that insects or animals or maybe even people aided the pollination process, and that somebody picked this, and transported it, and stocked it in the stands where I buy it. It feels miraculous after all this that I get to enjoy it and it always floods me with tenderness.