Artist Interview: Patricia Silva-Santisteban

Posted by Jenni Kirby - January 23 2021

A Peruvian at heart, Patricia Silva-Santisteban pulls inspiration for her ceramics from the rich history and culture of Peru. A former architect turned teacher, Patricia uses her design background and heritage to create unique ceramic pieces.


Patricia has been creating ceramics for the past 20 years, bridging her education from Peru, to New York, and finally Richmond. Patricia learned traditional, pre-Inca, ceramics while in Peru and says the technique is completely different than American ceramics. “We would go out into the forest to find materials to make clay. The colors, material, and shapes are all very different.”


While Patricia does not currently make her own clay, she still utilizes techniques from her studies in Peru. She prefers slab work, which gives her freedom to build and create interesting shapes. “In ancient times they used clay as photographs, so to speak, to draw scenes of everyday life. The motifs I use are inspired by Inca practices.”


For Patricia, each ceramic collection is a little different, but every piece is linked back to her origins in Peru. “My horses are based on Peruvian Paso horses and are a way to explore different colors, textures, and glazes.” She says her horse sculptures are from Eqqumarka, an ancient city where every child received a horse as a companion; in the ruins of this city, these companions were found. “Eqqumarka roughly translates to land of the horses.”


Patricia occasionally likes to shake things up and work with glass instead, creating unique lamps blending both glass and clay. She is planning a new series, to include quirky cat and goat sculptures – “I think they are the funniest creatures.” She refers to this as her Dr. Seuss period, saying “I am attracted to things that are different from the norm.” And like Dr. Seuss’ imagination, we cannot wait to see what she pulls out of her hat next.