Early this year I saw an exhibit of native Angeleno ceramic artist Dora de Larios at the Main Gallery in downtown LA.
she died in January of this year (2018) at age 84 after a notable career. She grew up in LA near Silver Lake where she was surrounded by Mexican and Nisei Japanese immigrants. This diverse community, as well as her childhood trips to the Museo Nacional de Antropologia in Mexico City, inspired her to create artwork that blended influences from ancient America and Japanese ceramics. She studied with potters Otto and Vivika Heino and Susan Peterson at USC and was exposed to the work of radical ceramic artists, notably Peter Voulkos, whose abstract work encouraged her to explore non-functional forms in clay. After graduating in 1957 she set up an independent studio in LA and sold her work thru venues that included Gump’s in San Francisco. In her figural sculptures, she developed a distinct style that derived from traditional Japanese Haniwa. In the 60’s artist and impresario Millard Sheets hired her along with other notable ceramic artists to design tiles for the Franciscan Ceramics division of Interpace in LA. She began experimenting with bronze, creating sculptures based on her personal experiences. Inspired by her participation in the Mask Festival at the Craft and Folk Art Museum, De Larios began experimenting with the mask form in the 80’s, drawing on religious and spiritual traditions from around the world.
in 2009, the Craft and Folk Art Museum hosted Suenos/Yume: Fifty years of the Art of Dora De Larios a retrospective of her work, curated by Elaine Levin.
In 2011, she was prominently featured in Art Along the Hyphen: The Mexican-America Generation at Autry national Center. The same year she was included in Common Ground, ceramics in Southern California 1945-1975 at the American Museum of Ceramic Art both organized by the Getty Founation’s Pacific Standard Time: Art in L.A. Initiative.
Her work is featured in many public commissions throughout the Southern California area.