Nicole Aquillano was raised in a small town outside of Pittsburgh, PA. She took an unconventional path to become a full time studio potter. After pursuing a career in civil engineering, she left to follow her passion and earned her MFA in ceramics from RISD. Nicole etches each image into porcelain clay with a knife and inlays a bluish/black underglaze. The high temperature of the kiln combined with a clear glaze overlay slightly blurs the drawing, much like a faded memory. She often references imagery from her past as a way to establish a personal connection. She established her studio in the Fort Point Area of Boston where she lived and worked with her husband Sam and cat Luna until 2017, when she moved just outside of Boston after the addition of her daughter Rafaela.
Nicole has been working full-time as a studio potter since 2012 and has developed a successful ceramics line which she currently produces and sells across the country. She sells her work at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the Clay Studio, Worcester Center for Crafts, the RISD Museum shop, among others. Her work has also been carried at Anthropologie Stores across the US and online. In addition to her original collections, she also work with galleries to create custom imagery for their shops including the Cooper Hewitt, National Building Museum, Philadelphia Museum of Art, deCordova Sculpure Park and Museum, Barnes Foundation, Skywalker Vineyards, Society for Contemporary Craft in Pittsburgh, and the New Britain Museum of American Art in Connecticut.
Aside from the work she produces for gallery shops, her one-of-a-kind work is exhibited nationally and has earned numerous awards including Best in Show in Society for Contemporary Craft’s Crafted Exhibition (2013), Cup of Merit for the NCECA Cup show and sale (2013), First Place Award in Workhouse Ceramics Drink This Exhibition (2014), Best of Show in the Academy of Fine Arts Battle of the Bowls (2013), and Award of Distinction, Award of Excellence, & Purchase Award for Starbrick Gallery’s National Cup Show (2015).
In 2015 she was awarded a Brother Thomas Fellowship from the Boston Foundation. She was also an American Made Finalist for Martha Stewart (2015) and a Leap Award Finalist for the Society for Contemporary Craft (2013). She often creates custom pieces for individual collectors. Working from their photographs, she draw subtle narratives on functional work to elicit memories of places near to their hearts. Each image is hand-inlaid with intense attention to detail and blurred by the movement of glaze, prompting display of her work when not in use, as a meaningful addition to any collection. She is fascinated by the potential of place to define and connect us, as well as the human need to maintain collections as a way to preserve the past.