After graduating from the University of the Philippines College of Fine Arts with a degree in Communication Arts, majoring in Editorial Design, Philippine-born artist Erika K. Arroyo came to the U.S. to attend New York University’s Masters program in Studio Arts with a major in Painting. Her teachers included the renowned painter Idelle Weber, and master printmaker Krishna Reddy. She participated in a study-abroad program head-ed by the artist Angiola Churchill, and presented her painting thesis exhibit in Venice, Italy. As part of the graduate program, the artist took a pottery course at Stony Brook University, hand-building prototypes of fantasy creatures in clay, which fascinated her. After graduation, she decided to go into graphic design and book publishing when that industry boomed in the 1990s. She is currently full-time Art Director for the NY City educational publishing company Infobase, ad has worked remotely since 2018 after she moved to Candler, NC, two miles from the pottery and arts mecca of Asheville, NC.
While working in publishing, the artist rediscovered pottery at a communal studio in Bay Shore, NY, when she moved to eastern Long Island in 2001, and has been spending most of her free time “throwing clay” since then. Early on, she developed a style of glazing that incorporates the skills and techniques she learned in her study of painting, where each piece can have as many as seven different glaze layers, with some of them fingerpainted on. She favours asymmetry and deliberately tries to make parts of her pieces atypical of the expected form so that each has its own personality.
She has been part of group shows such as “Trip7” at The Drawing Room Gallery in Manila, Philippines (2004) and “Objects of Art” at the Philippine Center Gallery in New York City (2005). Her work was chosen to be part of a juried exhibition at the Washing-ton Square East Gallery’s prestigious “Small Works” show in lower Manhattan (2005), and in 2006 she was invited to show as the only potter at the 1st NY Coffee and Tea Festival in Manhattan. In 2007, she won an Honorable Mention at the Phoenix Fine Arts Gallery in Bellport, NY, for her piece “Arc of T,” a half-circle form that could function as a vessel to hold liquids. In May 2013, she had a one-woman show at Pinto Gallery in Antipolo City, Philippines, with pieces ranging from clay masks and asymmetrical plates, to her signature Tpots. For the Live With Clay show at Artspace Gallery in Patchogue, NY (2014), she referenced East Indian clothing that has mirrors embroidered on it, and incorporated that with her love of nature to make art in which you see yourself as you look at it. Since moving to North Carolina in 2018, the artist has participated in pottery-only shows like the Carolina Pottery Festival and Appalachian Potters Market, as well as art/craft events like the Mt. Mitchell Craft Fair and Greening Up the Mountain in Sylva.
Her philosophy is “art can be functional and the functional can be art.” To this end, the artist constantly experiments with pushing a form to its limits while still allowing it to remain functional enough for daily use. She believes that beauty is necessary to feed one’s soul, and that one has to constantly strive to achieve some form of it in everyday living. She feels that beauty is enhanced by difference and usually camouflaged by conformity, so surprise and imagination need to be encouraged by her finished form.