American Design Stories: Linda Lopez
How this American ceramics artist takes it day by day
In the American Design Stories series, we ask designers from across the Americas to share their insights on American design today, along with three images that represent the designers’ vision of American design.
Our latest spotlight shines on American ceramicist Linda Lopez, who specializes in one-of-a-kind, vibrant, abstract porcelain objects that are as personality-filled as figurative sculpture. Her work on view at Design Miami/ Podium this year—through Mindy Solomon Gallery—attracted lots of oohs and aahs. Read on to discover more about this in-demand artist and educator.
What makes your American story unique?
My parents immigrated to the US from Vietnam and Mexico for a better future. They met in the central valley of California where my father worked on a citrus farm and my mother was a cook. I grew up in a household where we all learned English together, which is our only shared language. My parents taught me empathy, dedication and determination to prepare me for navigating the complicated landscape of America.
What does “America” mean to you?
A place where you can be individualistic and dream. Like many immigrant families, America provided a foundation for my family to have a fresh start. For me, it provided education and a kind of optimism—and ultimately gave me the permission and resources to pursue a creative life. Although my ideas of America are complicated, I cannot deny the resources it has given me to be successful.
What is an example of the best of American design?
My hometown of Visalia is known as The Gateway to the Sequoias. This national park was just a quick drive to the world's largest tree by volume, known as General Sherman. Growing up we would escape to the park for hikes, swims, and relief from the valley's hot summer days. America’s National Park system is a treasure with over 60 parks across the US. These parks not only provide a place to explore, but they also preserve an identity rooted in America’s vastness.
How have current crises figured into or impacted your studio’s experience and approach?
During the Covid shut down, exhibitions and deadlines were postponed, and I found time alone in the studio to experiment and take risks. This moment of discovery allowed me to develop a new series of work and reminded me how important it is to take time to slow down.
Do you have a personal mantra? What is it?
This year, I have been telling myself daily: Day by day 😊
Where do you look for strength?
Strength comes from many different places, such as community and nature. But most often I find continuous strength from my family. They are the foundation of my being, who keep me grounded and sane. I could not imagine my life without my supportive and encouraging partner!
What gives you the most joy in your work?
Going to the studio! A place where I can wrestle with ideas, have moments of discovery, and get lost in my making.
Thank you, Linda! ◆
Lopez’s work is available through Mindy Solomon Gallery.
Linda Nguyen Lopez is a first generation American artist of Vietnamese and Mexican descent. Exploring the poetic potential of the everyday by imagining and articulating a vast emotional range embedded in the mundane objects that surround us, her work has been exhibited in Italy, New Zealand, England, and throughout the United States, including the Craft Contemporary Museum, Los Angeles; Museum of Art & Design, New York; Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, Bentonville; and more.
Inspired by the 2020 Design Miami/ Podium theme America(s)—and all the complexities that go along with it, especially in this moment—Anna Carnick and Wava Carpenter of Anava Projects connected with a selection of outstanding designers with personal ties to the Americas to get their take on “American” design today. Their responses were insightful, inspiring, and diverse: From thoughts on the most pressing issues and challenges facing designers now, to hopes and suggestions for a more equitable future and reflections on their own American design journeys to date. Each story is accompanied by images provided by the designer that embody what America(s) or American design means to them.