In the Studio

Tina Fossella

We visited the home studio of Tina Fossella, tucked away under the redwoods in Mill Valley. Taking in the view from her studio, we talked about ceramics and using art as a way to heal.

Tina earned her Masters Degree in Transpersonal Counseling Psychology at Naropa University in Boulder, CO. She continued to study and practice in the Buddhist tradition, and lived as a monk for more than a decade. During that time she took drawing and painting classes, and took her first ceramics class at the Chelsea Ceramics Guild in New York City.

Tina first knew she was an artist when she began to work on healing. “My life as a child was very controlled and that had to be peeled away to figure out who I was. I started drawing and felt like my soul finally came out. Art was a way to heal. It’s therapy.” She found tremendous comfort in art, and in ceramics specifically. “Clay makes me feel good. It’s grounding and makes me feel in my body.”

After a scandal shook the Buddhist community she was apart of, she found herself turning to clay even more, and now as an extension of her spiritual practice. She began painting mantras on pots to connect her meditation practice to her ceramics.

Tina’s style is smooth and streamlined. Vases with graceful narrow necks, nicely balanced round bodied mugs and tumblers, pastel colored berry bowls, and vessels with carefully painted floral motifs are stacked in neat rows as she preps for a busy show season.

She brings the focus of meditation to the wheel. “I realized when making bottles, these vessels with narrow necks, they take a lot of focus. If you don’t pay attention, you ruin the whole thing. But being focused and present with it feels good.”

Ceramics is also the way she brings balance to her work life. Like many artists, Tina also has a “day job”. Several days a week, she travels into San Francisco to see clients at her therapy practice. “I love being a therapist, but it can be heavy. When I’m working with clay I’m energized and joyful.”

For Tina, ceramics is the center point that the rest of her life revolves around. “My spiritual practice, my therapy practice, it’s all centered on the wheel.” Making ceramics is meditation in action. A quote borrowed from Tina’s website sums it all up "Do whatever it is that makes you feel the most mindful and joyful!".

Niamh Lyonhart