Meet Reboli Center’s August Artisan of the Month: Laura Wilensky

Meet Reboli Center’s August Artisan of the Month: Laura Wilensky

The Reboli Center of Art and History is pleased to feature renowned ceramist, Laura Wilensky, as its Artisan for the month of August. “I first saw her work 40 years ago at the Rhinebeck Craft Fair and bought a couple of pieces. She makes hand sculpted portraits of people and/or cats and dogs or other pets in porcelain or white clay. Each piece is very detailed and intricate and for commissions they are beautifully personalized,” said Lois Reboli, founder of the Reboli Center, and who recently had an urn made for her beloved dog, Maddie, who passed away. Wilensky’s pieces are one-of-a-kind and others are made from molds and are limited editions.

After graduating from SUNY New Paltz in 1973 with a Bachelors in Fine Arts specializing in ceramics, Laura Wilensky became a full-time ceramist. While in college she created her “spoon” figurines and became known as the “spoon lady.” She was very fortunate that her spoons were exhibited at the well-known Fairtree Gallery in Manhattan, where they were sold to gallery customers at a great success. “Several clients started to collect my spoons and one woman has over 70 spoons which she displays on her wall in the bedroom,” recalled the artist who lives in Kingston, NY.  The spoon figurines are all made by hand and very fragile. Consequently, she no longer makes them, and has only three left: an ice skater, a man in his pajamas and woman in a nightgown with her hair curlers.

According to Wilensky, “My narrative porcelains have appeared in many publications, including: Teapots, Makers & Collectors; 500 Figures in Clay: Ceramic Artists Celebrate the Human Form; Smithsonian Magazine; and the New York Times. My works have been exhibited at the New York State Museum, American Crafts Museum, Cooper Hewitt Museum, Santa Barbara Museum of Art and the Renwick Gallery of the Smithsonian Institution.” The artist’s ceramics can be found in the homes of many private collectors. In fact, she designed and produced “Sleepytime” tea sets for Celestial Seasoning Tea Company. For a while, she made numerous tea pots and sets and some belong to serious collectors including a collection at Celestial Seasoning Tea Company at its headquarters in Boulder, CO.

Early in her career, Wilensky sold her creations at craft fairs in upstate New York and in Baltimore. She noted that her characters were more “cartoonish” and now the figures are realistic portraits of people and pets that she creates from photos, or fashioned as functional items such as mugs, bowls, vases and plates. “I enjoy working with people and making their request for a ceramic portrait come true. I am especially heartened as many customers are deeply moved by the final product,” she added.

The Reboli Center for Art & History is located at 64 Main Street in Stony Brook, NY. It is free and open to the public from Tuesday through Saturday from 11am until 5pm and on Sunday from 1pm – 5pm. Laura Wilensky’s ceramics are on display and available for sale at the Center’s Design Shop. They will also accept and process custom orders from interested individuals. For more information, please visit their website at www.rebolicenter.org or call 631-757-7707.

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