Nicole Aquillano was raised in a small town outside of Pittsburgh, PA. She took an unconventional path to become a full time studio potter. After pursuing a career in civil engineering, she left to follow her passion and earned her MFA in ceramics from RISD in 2012. Nicole draws each image by hand directly into the porcelain clay with a knife and inlays a black underglaze. The high temperature of the kiln combined with a clear glaze overlay slightly blurs the drawing, much like a faded memory. She often references imagery from her past as a way to establish a personal connection. She established her studio in the Fort Point Area of Boston where she lived and worked with her husband Sam and cat Luna, and moved to Acton, MA after the addition of her daughter Rafaela in May 2017.
Nicole has been working as a studio potter since 2012 and has developed a successful ceramics line which she currently produces and sells across the country. She sells her work at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, Decordova Sculpture Park & Museum, the Clay Studio, Baltimore Clayworks, Worcester Center for Crafts, the RISD Museum shop, among others. Her work has also been carried at Anthropologie Stores across the US and online. In addition to her original collections, she also work with galleries to create custom imagery for their shops including the Barnes Foundation in Philadelphia, the Society for Contemporary Craft in Pittsburgh, and the New Britain Museum of American Art in Connecticut.
Aside from the work she produces for gallery shops, her one-of-a-kind work is exhibited nationally and has earned numerous awards including Best in Show in Society for Contemporary Craft’s Crafted Exhibition (2013), Cup of Merit for the NCECA Cup show and sale (2013), First Place Award in Workhouse Ceramics Drink This Exhibition (2014), Best of Show in the Academy of Fine Arts Battle of the Bowls (2013), and Award of Distinction, Award of Excellence, & Purchase Award for Starbrick Gallery’s National Cup Show (2015).
She was recently awarded a Brother Thomas Fellowship from the Boston Foundation (2015), and has been an American Made Finalist for Martha Stewart (2015) and a Leap Award Finalist for the Society for Contemporary Craft (2013).
She also enjoys creating custom pieces for individual collectors. Working from their photographs, she draw subtle narratives on her functional work to elicit their memories of times past. Each image is hand-inlaid with intense attention to detail directly into the porcelain clay body and blurred by the movement of glaze, prompting display of her work when not in use, as a meaningful addition to any collection. She is fascinated by the potential of place to define and connect us, as well as the human need to maintain collections as a way to preserve the past.
"Fascinated by the potential of place to define and connect us, I draw subtle narratives on functional work to elicit memories of past experiences. Through the labor-intensive act of making, I establish a close personal relationship with each piece. I am personally influenced by a nostalgia for my childhood home. Architectural imagery drawn from my photographic collection - inlaid with intense attention to detail directly into the porcelain clay body - prompts display of my work when not in use, as a meaningful addition to any collection. Blurred by the movement of glaze, the imagery is much like a faded memory. I am particularly interested in exploring the human need to maintain collections, as a way to preserve the past and satisfy the longing with which we inhabit the world: driven by a desire to hold onto that which will inevitably be lost. My memories and experiences are carved onto objects intended to be both used and collected: as a way to facilitate new relationships to fill the void left by that which we will never have again."