Elizabeth Peña-Alvarez process
MFA 2022 Artists MFA 2022 Artists: Elizabeth Peña-Alvarez
Elizabeth Peña-Alvarez

UMass Dartmouth 2022 MFA Thesis Exhibition

About Elizabeth Peña-Alvarez

Elizabeth Peña-Alvarez is a sculptor based in Cranston, Rhode Island. She received her BFA from Swain School of Design and her MFA in Ceramics from the Rhode Island School of Design. Her work is nationally exhibited, and she is the recipient of the Windgate Fellowship, from the Arrowmont School of Arts and Crafts. She was born and raised in Miami, Florida, where the abundant and varied vegetation's lasting impact continues to drive her studio work.


It is said that in life, suffering is inevitable. We suffer with physical and emotional pain from disease and death. We suffer from loss, such as the end of a marriage, impairment of a limb, or the death of a child. After a series of successive traumas, it is more than resiliency or perseverance that enables one to move forward. With a shift in perspective, traumatic events can be viewed as catalysts for change. As the ancient Sufi poet, Rumi, wrote: “The wound is the place where the Light enters you.” Clarity of purpose is illuminated by re-assembling remnants of the previous way of life, however, with a more curatorial focus. This is known as Post-Traumatic Growth, which is the essence of my work.

In my artwork, I investigate physical and emotional trauma and the concept of Post-Traumatic Growth by incorporating universal dichotomous themes such as life and loss; growth and destruction; beauty and darkness. My visual vocabulary is informed by observations of the natural world, including flora, and human anatomy. These images are integrated into my large-scale ceramic, hand-built, highly textural, biomorphic sculptures, with focal points of meticulous detail, which are hybridized forms of botanical and anatomical elements, invoking transformative and transcendent growth. These forms are sometimes juxtaposed with metallic glazed liturgical objects, providing the opportunity for glints of light. Other times, they incorporate ash, the remnants of life lost, which provides the nutrients from which new life can grow.