Roberto Lugo

A biography

Roberto Lugo creates defiant genre-mixing works that confront the function and subject matter of high art objects from Classical Antiquity, East Asia, the Italian Renaissance, seventeenth-century Europe, and beyond. Using the ancient medium of clay as his canvas, Lugo both calls attention to intergenerational experiences of racial injustice while celebrating African American and Latino culture.

Ceramic as an artistic medium is important to Lugo because of its anthropological context. Over the course of history, finely-crafted ceramic objects stood as a symbol of class, privilege, and the aristocracy. Lugo intervenes in these histories, and countless more, to create a new mode of storytelling that blends narrative and portraiture with cross-disciplinary techniques and time-honored forms in order to introduce those notably absent from the art historical canon. The result is distinctive works in clay unified by Lugo’s call for representation.

Roberto Lugo holds a BFA from the Kansas City Art Institute and an MFA from Penn State. His work has been featured in exhibitions at the Smithsonian American Art Museum, Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, and the Museum of Arts and Design in New York, among others. He is the recipient of numerous awards, including a 2019 Pew Fellowship, a Cynthia Hazen Polsky and Leon Polsky Rome Prize, a US Artist Award, and the 2023 Heinz Awards for the Arts.

Lugo’s work has been acquired by over thirty three institutions including the Brooklyn Museum, High Museum of Art, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Museum of Fine Arts Boston, Metropolitan Museum of Art, National Museum of African American History and Culture, Philadelphia Museum of Art, and the Walters Art Museum. He is currently an Assistant Professor at the Tyler School of Art and Architecture in Philadelphia.