Dot Art -Dorotea Ceramics


The real work happens in the evening, after Dot’s been put to bed, and Carolina Silva can make the short drive back to her tiny studio in Seattle’s Ballard neighborhood. Today, though, it’s early, and Dot is playing while her mother works. Plastic bags of stiff, grey clay lie piled in the corner. Sketches and watercolors of curling floral patterns pinned and taped to the walls. The pale light of the Pacific Northwest drifts through tall windows and rests on a small table, covered with finished work. Plates and bowls, small sculptures of tree stumps, string banners and painted snakes made of ceramic and clay. The patterns of soft petals and curling vines run beyond the edges of each piece and repeat in the sketches on the wall.

Dorotea Ceramics, named after her three year old daughter Dot, is the most recent product of an artistic force that has pushed Carolina forward since her youth. Silva’s earlier work is dynamic, filled with pattern and color but also tension and a sense of unease. Seedlings of the patterned flora that cover her ceramics can be found in her earlier work, in a papered wall behind a crouching figure, in a blanket that covers a sleeping child. Distilled and repeated on plates and bowls, the patterns are softer, mature and comforting.

Carolina and her husband, both from Madrid have lived all over the world. For now, though they’ve found a home among the grey skies and green cedars of Seattle.

QC: Where all have you and your husband Manolo lived? CS: We have known each other since we were teenagers in Madrid. We started living together in New York in 1999. After almost two years in New York we moved back to Spain, to Valencia, where Manolo had a job offer and and we got married before moving to San Francisco. After two years in San Francisco I moved to Japan to do an arts residency and then back to Valencia. The year before moving to Seattle we lived in Formentera, a little island in the Mediterranean. We had got married there and its a special place we love.

QC: What about Seattle Makes this city feel like home?  CS: Good people we’ve been lucky to meet and be friends with.

QC: What’s the biggest challenge about living abroad? CS: Being so far from our families.

QC: What aspect of life in Seattle would your friends and family in Madrid have the hardest time understanding? CS: Dinner at 6? I must have understanding family and friends becasue I can’t think of anything remarkable that they find hard to understand.

QC: What does a wonderfully lazy Sunday look like for you? CS: Sunny day, having “aperitivo” in the backyard while the kids play happily and I am reading the Sunday newspapers.  If its a rainy day, the same but in the couch covered by a cozy blanket.

QC: Any secrets for long haul flights with kids? CS: We prefer night flights because the kids are tired and sleep. Also, lots of patience and movies.

QC: What’s your favorite thing about your home? CS: The light.

QC: You named your ceramics after your daughter Dot. How has your work changed from your pre-child days? CS: I’ve had to adjust my schedule and have less time in the studio so need to be or try to be more efficient about it.

QC: Can you describe the artistic community in Seattle and compare to other places where you have lived and worked? CS: Artists here are generally very supportive of each other. There are many genuine and humble artists in Seattle, all doing their own thing and at the same time being very open.

QC: Manolo often journeys to Alaska for his job as a marine biologist. What’s the most challenging thing about staying behind with the two kids? CS: I need to be more organized when he goes and I am not a good planner. I’ve always  had great support from friends when he is gone and there is a difficult situation like one of us getting sick.

QC: Where will you go after Seattle? CS: We are happily settled here for now, but we still dream of island life sometimes.