tristyn Bustamante

Duration: february-april 2019

Tristyn is a current artist-in-residence at the New Harmony Clay Project. During the time she is in New Harmony, she will continue to develop her bio-mechanical styled sculptural work, which will build from former questions of “purpose” and integrate themes of adaptation. Tristyn hopes to progress creatively and professionally given this opportunity of freedom, support and time.


quick facts

How many years have you been working as a clay artist? I have been serious about working with clay for about 10 years. Though, throughout my youth, I was always in art classes. I took my first ceramics class at a city run community art center at age six and never really stopped.

What is your main clay body that you currently use?  There is so much potential with various clay bodies that I find myself sampling as much as I can. However, the clay body my forms are consistently made of is a cone 6-10 Laguna white stoneware.

What is the primary method you use for building your work? After the ideation and planning phase, I typically approach building the forms by common methods of coil building, soft and hard slab. 

What is your favorite studio tool? There is a part of both the forming and refining process where I use a large wooden kitchen spoon to paddle and shape/ finish the surfaces and edges. The spoon is the perfect weight and size. It's kind of an irreplaceable tool for me.

Do you have any future clay wishes or dreams? Well like many, I appreciate the experience of earned success. I have learned to be very open and flexible with progress and pitfall and like many others, I have had both. In addition to making art, I enjoy teaching and being a contributing member to society. If I can sustain a life of persistence toward continually pursuing art and social progress, then I'll feel successful in that I am fulfilling a purpose that can lead to greater things beyond myself.




This body of work is produced through a process of informed intuitive ideation, development of form, and conscious refinement. The production of each piece, from beginning to end, emerges from in depth studies of a collection of interrelated topics of inquiry paired with material consciousness and engaged problem solving. 

Instilled with thoughts on the nature and processes of systems of movement, feedback loops and human behavior, I consider various machines, devices, the human body and methods of communication/ expression. Through a planned process of construction and arrangement, I create sculptures that suggest individual systems which seem to function for something. To maintain subtle suggestions of a human component, I often incorporate elements to express a gesture or part of the body. The addition of fabricated/ found parts and areas of connections, entries and exits lead to a mechanical or biomechanical feel and of something passing through or transmitting. Carefully chosen colors and textures of range of ceramic and non-ceramic surfaces are added to influence an effect of play between material, symbolism and piece’s identity. 

The forms act as potential functioning objects, mechanical, electronic or anthropomorphic and pull viewers in to question their nature or purpose. Small intimate areas with representational parts, such as buttons or dials, trigger specific ideas of known devices, while the general abstraction of the forms, offer freedom for the viewer’s mind to wander. Ultimately, each piece is an expression of some aspect of a system at times also evocative of a feeling or mood. They are physical snapshots expressing the potential of an ambiguous yet expected event, which question purpose.




BORN: Oakland, California       

Tristyn Bustamante holds an MFA from Arizona State University and a BFA with a minor in Art History from Northern Arizona University. She has attended residencies and workshops in places such as, The Armory Art Center in West Palm Beach, Florida, and The International Ceramics Studio in Hungary. Her work involves the use of clay and other materials to produce carefully planned, yet intuitively designed objects with a systematic quality addressing ambiguous functions and purposes. Tristyn has exhibited regionally and nationally, as well as at a few locations abroad. Prior to her position at New Harmony Clay Project, Tristyn worked as an Instructor of Art Foundations at different colleges and universities in Arizona and as a Studio Director at the Armory Art Center. Following her time in New Harmony, Tristyn will be working as a resident artist at the YZ Creative Art Center in Shanxi Province, China.  Tristyn is appreciative to have had the support of family, friends, and art enthusiasts throughout these endeavors, most significantly her immediate family.