Born in St. Petersburg, Russia, artist Asya Palatova spent childhood summers at her grandmother’s dacha in the countryside, overlooking the Gulf of Finland. Nurtured by the local flora, fauna, and the sea, her memories of that place became a catalyst for her line of porcelain table wares, Gleena, which she now designs from her studio in Pawtucket, RI.
At age 11, Asya left Russia with her family as Jewish refugees and settled in the U.S. But it wasn’t until college that she fell in love with ceramics. As an undergraduate studying graphic design at the University of Cincinnati, she began hand-building clay pinch pots and “instantly connected with the material.” After a brief stint as an art director in New York City, she followed her passion to the Rhode Island School of Design, where she received her MFA in ceramics in 2002. She’s remained here ever since.
Today, Asya looks for inspiration along Rhode Island’s coastline; a particular stretch of Little Compton is a favorite spot to search for the smooth pebbles that inform the organic shape of her vessels, which are available via the Gleena website and various regional retailers. “That beach is a treasure-trove of form and color,” says the artist, who is attracted to the serenity of the ocean.
Mugs, plates, and bowls from Gleena – which means “clay” in Russian – are shaped and edged by hand, making each one unique. The seashore’s palette provides inspiration, too. Aysa mixes her glazes – pale turquoise, shell pink, cool gray – by hand to harness the softness of ocean colors. “It is a feeling of calm and space that I strive for in my work,” she explains. “I find the horizontal lines created by the waves, the sky, the mist, the clouds very soothing, and attempt to translate that feeling with glazes on my porcelain.” Close your eyes while setting the table, listen carefully, and you, too, may just hear the gentle crashing of waves in the distance.