Natalia Arbelaez was born in Miami, Florida returning shortly thereafter to her mother’s country of Medellin, Colombia. She immigrated back to the states at the age of 4, even though she is a native born American citizen she has navigated and identified as an immigrant.
Natalia received her B.F.A. from Florida International University and her M.F.A. with a concentration in ceramics and sculpture from The Ohio State University, where she received an Enrichment Fellowship. She has participated in several residencies, such as, Art South Homestead, Florida and Belden Brick Factory Sugarcreek, Ohio. She was awarded the Inaugural Artaxis Fellowship that generously funded a residency at Watershed Center for the Ceramics Arts. Her work has been exhibited nationally, in museums, galleries, and included in various collections.
I’m a figurative sculptural artist who uses any medium that best exemplifies concepts and ideas. I do often find myself having a preference for clay and how well I’ve responded to the material. Its memory, immediacy, and visceral handling are all qualities that have appealed to me and my psyche. The primal tactility of clay, with its responsiveness and memory extends itself to my ideas of the body. The physical body has a memory to it and memory connects to form. In my process of referencing the body I have forgone the use of an actual and specific body. Because of this I can use the memory of my own body, the body of my family, and extend my memories to places beyond the body.
Some of the topics that I touch upon are my Colombian heritage and culture and the indigenous people of South America. I work with ideas of how these identities are lost through conquest, migration, and time, gained through family, culture, and exploration, and passed down through tradition and genetic memory. I use these influences to contribute to a contemporary dialogue while simultaneously continuing the work of my ancestors.