Maddie Weiss ‘25
Feb 2, 2024
Mercersburg is no stranger to visual arts, especially when it comes to ceramics. Students create not only practical but beautiful works that anyone can enjoy. Nathaniel Gotera '24 stands out for his wonderful pieces in the realm of ceramics.
As to his inspiration, Gotera said, "Aside from the pottery aisle at Hobby Lobby and the ghost of Mr. Gray, most of my inspiration comes from the question, 'What do my friends need?'" Gotera's artistic process revolves around meeting his friends' practical needs while incorporating impractical beauty. "If they need a bowl, I'll make a bowl, and I'll do my best to make it pretty," he added. Recently, Gotera has taken his inspiration a step further, shaping clay that embodies the "aura" of specific individuals, resulting in unique and personalized pieces.
Growing up sculpting sandcastles, folding origami, and climbing buttes, Gotera has always had an innate love for working with his hands. For him, ceramics is a natural extension of this passion. "Really, I just like playing with mud, and it so happens that people call it art," he remarked, reflecting the genuine joy he finds in the expressive nature of working with clay.
Currently, Gotera is focused on designing a porcelain clay body for his senior capstone project. Additionally, he has been focusing on crafting ramen bowls and Chawan teacups for his friends. During his free time, he enjoys creating adorable ceramic fortune cookies, showcasing his skill and creativity within the realm of ceramics.
For Gotera, ceramics is more than just an art form; it's a tangible expression of his connection to others. "When I give my friends bowls, I give them a part of myself to hold, to feel, to make ramen with," he commented. He describes ceramics as a meditative practice, finding tranquility in the hum of the wheel, the cut of leather-hard clay, and the ritual of cleaning his tools. "Overall, I just love the idea of functional art," Gotera added, emphasizing the meaningful and practical aspect of his craft.
Looking ahead, Gotera envisions refining his skills further, particularly in the realm of bowls and tea cups. However, with the prospect of greater freedom in college, he aspires to explore more diverse forms, including contemporary vases, sculptural pieces, and other artistic paraphernalia. Additionally, he acknowledges his mother's growing interest in flowers, hinting at the possibility of creating unique ceramic vases for her newfound passion.
Nathaniel Gotera is not merely a ceramic artist but a storyteller, weaving narratives into his creations that reflect his connection with others and the world around him. His dedication to both functionality and artistic expression makes him a valuable contributor to the Mercersburg artistic community, leaving his indelible mark through the beauty and utility of his ceramic masterpieces.