Eleftheriart – “Powerfulness, joy, and love!”
Eleftheria Darzenta is the heart and soul of “Eleftheriart, ceramic and wood.” She is a passionate and compassionate being, both traits of character that are harder to come by than she may think. When met with challenges and hardship, her love for the world around her has been a driving force for creating her unbound (“eleftheri”) art and for giving back to society.
Eleftheria, born in Athens in 1978, fell in love with clay sometime in 2012 and has, since, taken part in many art projects, joint exhibitions, and charitable events as a ceramics artist. She is a co-founder of the “DreamTeam” Social Cooperative Enterprise, which promotes arts and culture and defends the institutional rights of animals through exhibitions and social happenings.
In September 2016 she donated one of her paintings to the Agios Savvas Regional Cancer Hospital intending to create an uplifting, encouraging, children-friendly wing, within a project initiated by the association “Pnoi Agapis” (an organization for cancer support).
In December 2016 she co-organized her second joint exhibition “GlamArt I”, a charitable event to support the SSM of the Municipality of Agios Dimitrios, while “GlamArt II” of December 2017 was held with the support of Club for UNESCO of Piraeus & Islands and the Hadjipaterion Centre (CRSC), and received a UNESCO award in 2018.
Did your upbringing prompt a specific reference point within your work? Is your work informed by certain concepts or themes from your cultural heritage?
I don’t come from a potters family so besides the fact that I have grown up quite freely and close to nature I can’t I say there’s some related background that drove me towards pottery. From a young age, I was attracted to and fascinated by anything handmade (painting, handicraft, etc). In my adult life, I expressed my artistic tendency through professional makeup which I practiced for 8-9 years. Life, however (fortunately!) had other plans for me. At the age of 30 by the end of 2008, when my son was only 2 years old, I got diagnosed with cancer. I had to stop work immediately. Being the restless person that I am, during the endless hours I spent homebound or at the hospital, I found an outlet in making jewelry, crafting, and experimenting with materials.
In December 2009, I held, fearfully, my first exhibition—if we can call it that. (I hesitate to do so because my health situation hadn’t been particularly helpful back then.) After the exhibition, I got even more involved in arts and crafts, and during that amazing journey, I got introduced to pottery clay sometime in 2012. I dare say I fell in love with it and we’ve been inseparable ever since. I didn’t attend any special school, but I studied beside an old Greek ceramicist, Mr. Filippeos. He’s like a father to me, and I owe him a lot! That said, I’m still learning. Pottery has no limits; you can go as far as you wish to go. Within it, I believe I found my true identity as an artist.
Tell us how you develop concepts or creative ideas for craft objects.
I don’t know if I have a particular way to develop ideas. I just express what I carry inside, the essence of who I am! But I also create custom items, based on my customer’s desires and needs, or items that serve a purpose for certain circumstances like weddings and christenings.
What is your overall experience in creating functional or decorative objects by hand? Describe some of the methods and material/s you use.
Creating an object from scratch is an exceptional feeling. There’s something magical about getting an amorphous piece of clay and “breathing life” into it. I generally like creating objects with large surfaces because they give me freedom to paint and that’s something I love. After completing works like these, I often feel stunned because every single item turns out so unique.
Working with clay is certainly not a simple process: you need to follow specific rules and take many factors (like the weather conditions) into account. It only takes a single wrong move, a miscalculation, or a missed parameter to destroy part of a project or even an entire batch of items. Pottery has infinite applications. I prefer to mold simply and paint instead of using enamel or intricate techniques that are otherwise impressive but don’t allow ample ground for painting. I mainly use stains and both glossy and matte glazing.
Have you been persistent in the face of obstacles? In what ways?
The only obstacle I’ve encountered was set by none other than myself when it was time to create my own space. I’m referring to the deep insecurity that comes with these decisions. In the end, my love for what I do as well as the precious guidance from my business coach helped me defeat my insecurities. After all, why are we met with hurdles, if not to overcome them and become stronger;
What does your work aim to say?
The message of my work is powerfulness, joy, and love. I feel particularly happy when I meet people, who can decipher this and there are quite a few who notice that all of my pieces exude vigor and passion, along with something childlike at the same time. It’s true. I think the kid we all hide inside is happy that I let her out to play with colors and clay!
Who are your biggest influences?
I guess my biggest influences are not what you’d expect to hear from an artist. They are nature, animals, the sea, and the sky. Also, love but mostly this inner child who’s probably been guiding me all along.
How do you navigate the art world? Which current art trends are you following?
The world of art is a unique space with unique people and a huge range of expressions. One can disclose and be revealed through their craft, and that’s what makes this virtuosity universe intriguing and interesting. I face it like I face the rest of the world: with good intentions, but also with discernment and intuition to determine if something/someone deserves my respect.
All photos are curtesy of Ms. Eleftheria Darzenta & Eleftheriart, Ceramic & Wood
You can marvel at Eleftheria’s art, browse her e-shop, or give special orders here: