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Wandering into a New World

6/1/16

Shea Stanfield
Arts Columnist

J.R.R. Tolkien wrote in The Fellowship of the Rings, “Not all those who wander are lost.” In local artist Christiane Barbato’s case, her “wandering” has carried her, through discovery into a world of inspiration, creation, and joy. Her exquisitely hand-crafted utilitarian ceramic pieces provide excitement, delight, and life force to the contents they contain and the life force offered to others.

Christiane is a native of Brazil, having grown up in the southeastern area of the country flanked by the shores of the Atlantic Ocean. Her roots run deep in the European continent; her grandparents, from Germany, Italy, Syria, and Portugal, all found new life, in a “new world,” decades ago. Christiane’s parents encouraged their children to travel widely, gain an appreciation for other cultures, enjoy nature, and most importantly, live their passion, giving back to others. Christiane elevates their advice to a new level of caring creativity. 

Christiane’s first exposure to the United States came in 1983 as a Foreign Exchange student to Chaparral High School in Scottsdale, Arizona. After that year, she returned to Brazil to continue her education completing a BA and MBA at Pontificia Universidade Catolica and FGV Fundacao Gutelio Vargas, both in San Paulo, Brazil.  She then went on to work, for a number of years, as a financial auditor for large international companies.

Eventually, Christiane’s desire for the corporate “fast track” waned and she looked for an exit. The opportunity to explore a new highway came when she was asked to help her family turn their farm into a spa/boutique hotel with 10 rooms. She found her “new element” working in the hospitality industry. As she would describe, “No two days were the same, I loved the endless opportunities to create new solutions for the benefit of others, partner with my extended family, and work with top chefs from the United States, United Kingdom, Italy, and Bahrain.” This is where her “hobby” of utilitarian ceramics took on a professional twist into presentation and the professional culinary world.

Finally, in 2006, Christiane returned to the United States to start her own family with a former high school crush. Today, she has elevated her passion for utilitarian ceramics into a full time career, while raising her three children. Christiane’s creations take on the organic forms of plants both wild and domestic. She uses watermelon, squash, and other large fruits and vegetables in forming her base shapes of clay. She then incorporates impressions of leaves, vines, branches, and flowers, adding texture and interest to the smooth surfaces. The final touches are completed with a variety of glaze hues, her favorites being turquoise, grays, blues, and off whites. The end product is a stunning original piece to complement both culinary presentations and interior design.  

Giving back is also important to Christiane; she donates a portion of her sales to Casa Brazil, www.casabrazil.org. The funds help needy children from the northeastern part of Brazil with clothing, food, water, and other important necessities of life. For those who wish to donate, the Web site allows direct contribution.

Christiane is a member of the Sonoran Arts League and exhibits in the annual Hidden In The Hills Studio Tour each November. She also participates in the Italian Festival in Scottsdale, keeping in touch with her Italian roots in the “old country.” 

Christiane Barbato sells her collections on her Web site at www.bluedoorceramics.com.  She “invites you to wander” into her fascinating world of commissions for your special occasions, and gifting memorable gifts. Connect with her via email addresses of hello@bluedoorceramics.com or christiebarbato@gmail.com, to arrange a studio visit, arrange a consultation for a commission or a purchase. Also, find her on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter.

Contact arts columnist Shea Stanfield at flowingquill@yahoo.com.