How Artist Pilar Wiley Fuses Global Traditions with Modern Clay Forms

Paige Simianer | May 1, 2024

The image features artist Pilar Wiley focused on crafting a large clay pot in a studio setting. She's wearing a grey shirt and a dark apron, using a blue tool to refine the surface of the pot. In the background, shelves display various finished ceramic pieces in green and neutral tones. The image includes text that reads "Artist Spotlight: Pilar Wiley

"I sometimes imagine myself as an information-eating organism, metabolizing patterns and imagery from the world around me and producing vessels to digest and contain them."

Artwork Archive's Featured Artist, Pilar Wiley, transforms clay into vessels that are both functional and serve as canvases for her repeating patterns and pictorial themes. 

Each piece she creates tells a story, formed from her life experiences and influenced by a myriad of cultural aesthetics, including global traditions of decorative abstraction.

Drawing inspiration from the natural world, as well as the deep cultural impressions left by her childhood spent overseas, Pilar incorporates motifs from plant life and textiles into her mark-making. Capitalizing on clay’s ritualistic associations, she endeavors to transform the information she consumes. 

Pilar Wiley aims to bring a sense of calm and a spark of joy to those who encounter her pieces, similar to the soothing effects of ASMR. Through her work, she invites everyone to experience the thoughtful and generative power of art. 

Artwork Archive had the chance to chat with Pilar Wiley more about the cultural influences in her work, insights she has for other artists, and why she just joined Artwork Archive three months ago! ​ 

You can see more of her work on Discovery and learn more about her art practice below:

 The image shows a woman in a pottery studio, meticulously working on a large, clay pot. She is using a small blue tool to shape or decorate the pot. She wears a grey top and a dark apron. In the foreground, there's a blue bowl containing clay scraps on a table. In the background, shelves filled with various colorful pottery pieces are visible. The caption notes the artist as Pilar Wiley, with photo credit to Reynaldo Rivera, and mentions the photo is courtesy of the artist.

Pilar Wiley in her studio. Photo credit: Reynaldo Rivera. Photo courtesy of the artist

Do you have a favorite or most satisfying part of your creative process? If so, can you share a bit about it?

I love getting immersed in the process of hand-building and the satisfaction of achieving the shape I see in my mind’s eye.

Using coils to build up a form, then smoothing and refining it, seems to ground my nervous system. The dopamine hit of opening the kiln and seeing how a piece turned out also keeps me coming back for more.

What are the most important global traditions of decorative abstraction that influence your work? 

My parents met in Japan in the 70s, so we had a lot of Japanese textiles and ceramics in the house. These burrowed deep into my subconscious and seem to resurface in my work.

We also lived in Nigeria and Kenya, where we collected African baskets. The satisfying geometries of those basket patterns absorbed me as a kid.

Overall, I am intrigued by the way different cultures codify sensory information and materials from the natural world into decorative patterns. 

The image shows a ceramic pot created by Pilar Wiley, titled "Cornrow Gourd." The pot is bulbous and has a dark gray glaze with triangular patterns revealing a rust-colored underglaze. The artwork measures 12 x 18 x 16.5 inches and was created in 2019.

Pilar Wiley, Cornrow Gourd, 12 x 18 x 16.5 in, 2019

You mention a ‘personal mythology’ you advance through your work; can you elaborate on this concept? 

Ha, you got me. I use that term as a shield to protect the process I experience while making my work.

I sometimes imagine myself as an information-eating organism, metabolizing patterns and imagery from the world around me and producing vessels to digest and contain them. This process helps me cope with the overwhelming abundance of information in the digital age and the dazzling profusion of the material world.

What impact do you hope your work will have on those who view it?

I hope interacting with the pieces brings a kind of soothing brain buzz similar to ASMR, and an intuition of something generative.


What’s something you wish you knew before becoming a professional artist? 

For most artists, there is a natural ebb and flow, both with your creative process and the market’s reception of your work.

I wish I had known earlier to treat the ebbs as a normal part of the process, a gift instead of a reason to panic.

The image shows a close-up of a ceramic vase with a unique, curved neckline design. The vase has a smooth surface and a pale green color with subtle speckles distributed throughout. The shape is asymmetrical, with one side rising taller than the other, creating a distinctive silhouette. The piece was created by Pilar Wiley, it titled 'Seafoam', and measures 13.5 x 11.25 x 10.25 in, made in 2023

Pilar Wiley, Seafoam, 13.5 x 11.25 x 10.25 in, 2023

What are you listening to lately? While you’re in the studio, do you have any "go-to's" that you like to listen to?

Music-wise, I usually revert to Tropicália. For audiobooks, Kim Stanley Robinson’s Mars trilogy is perfect for the clay studio, with its extensive descriptions of geology and landscape.

I hop around a lot with podcasts, but lately, I’ve been liking Art Problems, The Petty Herbalists, Brazuca Sounds, and New Models.

These audio influences bring me fresh knowledge and encouragement and energize me in the studio.

Having just subscribed in February 2024, we know you’re just getting started with Artwork Archive; what feature have you found to be the most beneficial to your art practice so far?

The ability to generate Catalog Pages quickly is so helpful.

I used to spend hours tailoring PDFs for different inquiries. Now the process is streamlined, leaving valuable time for studio work.

I also love the ability to keep track of locations for consigned and sold work.

Artwork Archive Tip:

With features like location tracking, sales records, and consignment details, you can maintain a clear record of where each piece of your artwork is at any time, who has purchased it, and where it's currently displayed or stored. Artwork Archive's centralized system brings that peace of mind, wrapped in a suite of easy-to-use features made specifically for artists.

Click here to create your free account. 

 The image displays an artistic light installation titled "Light Triad" by Pilar Wiley, created in 2023. It features three pale, curved ceramic bases, each supporting a spherical, illuminated globe on top. The artwork measures 22.625 x 18.5 x 18 inches. The ceramics have a matte finish in a soft, light gray tone, contributing to a minimalist and modern aesthetic.

Pilar Wiley, Light Triad, 22.625 x 18.5 x 18 in, 2023

Why did you decide to use Artwork Archive to inventory your artwork and manage your art career?

It just solves so many problems at once. It smoothes the friction of administrative tasks, so I can focus my energy elsewhere.

Generating inventories and keeping track of consignments is so much easier.

I’m also excited to delve deeper into the Schedule, Insights, and CRM tools, to better access the “Institutional Knowledge” slowly built up in my business.

What advice would you give an artist who’s just starting out in their professional career?

I hesitate to give advice, as I think new artists probably have a better intuition of the tilting landscape they are entering than I do.

The platitudes to follow your vision and cultivate resilience still apply.

I do regret not investing in professional photography for shows and installations early on—get good pictures of everything!


The image features artist Pilar Wiley seated at a table in a ceramic studio. She is leaning on her left arm, resting her chin on her hand, and looking directly at the camera with a gentle expression. She wears a grey shirt and a dark apron. In the background, several large ceramic pieces are displayed on a shelf by a window, including a distinctive piece with a yellow spherical top. The studio appears bright and airy, emphasizing a creative and artistic environment.

Pilar Wiley in her studio. Photo credit: Reynaldo Rivera. Photo courtesy of the artist

Pilar Wiley uses Artwork Archive to organize her artwork, generate reports for her art business, present herself professionally, and a whole lot more.

You can make an online portfoliocatalog your artwork, and generate reports like inventory reportstear sheets, and invoices in seconds with Artwork Archive. Take a look at Artwork Archive's free trial and start growing your art business. 

Purple graphic with screenshots of Artwork Archive's system. White text reads: Artwork Archive: An online portfolio + business management platform for artists. Get the all-in-one platform artists use to manage their artwork and career. Green button that says Try it Free leads to Artwork Archive's main sign up page.


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