Artistry springs eternal on Manhattan Avenue, and walking into Fernanda Uribe-Horta’s apartment-studio-combo is a bit like walking into a hidden garden. Awash with lush greenery, gorgeous art, and a chipper young puppy, her home is much like her work: lively, alluring, and full of love. Entering feels like a reminder that each doorway down the block has the potential to be a secret hole-in-the-wall treasure.
But the true treasure, aside from Uribe-Horta herself, are the sculptures she creates. With her tall vases of varied shapes and sizes, handcrafted and hand painted with beautiful designs, Uribe-Horta has successfully combined her art education into something incredibly personal.
Uribe-Horta grew up in Tijuana, Mexico where she lived until she was 17 years old. After high school, she decided to move to Europe for her undergraduate degree to study art in Milan, Italy at the Nueva Academia di Belle Arti (otherwise known as the New Academy of Fine Arts — NABA). She stayed at NABA to complete her Master’s Degree in Fine Arts and Curatorial Studies and first came to Brooklyn to study for a semester abroad at the Pratt Institute.
Arriving to Punto Verde
While in Milan, Uribe-Horta was showcasing her work at art fairs and was scheduled to headline a gallery event when the gallery suffered flooding. While Uribe-Horta did not lose her work in the flood, it did spur her move to Brooklyn. She has been living in Greenpoint for seven years, which is also why the name of her company was initially called “Punto Verde” or “Greenpoint” to signify both her locality and her green thumb. (The company is now the same as her name, as the oneness of her pieces are so representative of the self.)
Up until her move, Uribe-Horta primarily spent her artistic time painting, but a ceramics class in the city inspired her to try her hand at sculpting. With time, Uribe-Horta discovered that the combination of these two art forms is what has allowed her to infuse so many of her cultural influences. As a mentor once pointed out to her, painting on materials from the earth is one of the oldest forms of human expression, and with Uribe-Horta’s desire to create work that feels connected to the earth, this realization made her heart sing.
With the clay as her canvas, Uribe-Horta does not use a wheel to form her sculptures. Instead, she uses her hands. Though it takes longer, she says it gives her more control over the piece she is creating. The intention behind her work is so clearly all-encompassing of her influences and desires, it’s hard not to be engrossed in the histories they hold.
Inspired by her Cuban and Mexican roots, while also influenced by Italian, Greek, and Roman art, Uribe-Horta often explores themes of Greek and Mexican archeology, with a personal interest, as well, in spirit animals. With that, Uribe-Horta is able to infuse cultural diversity in an incredibly rich and timeless way. Pillars of her work appear to be a respect for nature, the sanctity of tradition, and a curiosity for the beings who came before. Plus, as Uribe-Horta put it, “a touch of wildness.”
Continued Work Abroad
Before the pandemic, Uribe-Horta had accepted an invitation by Architectural Digest to do a show and was planning to go to Italy. With both plans canceled, and the closure of the studio in Williamsburg where she had been creating her pieces, Uribe-Horta had to innovate. She started doing Instagram story sales with the pieces from her personal stock, and (as a silver lining) watched as local artists all worked together to share and uplift each other’s work. Now, with the world opening back up, Uribe-Horta is excited to show her work at the Milan Design show, 1000 Vases, September 5th-10th.
Uribe-Horta uses her sculpting as a visual journal. She takes the memories and experiences that she holds dearly, and weaves them into these physical moments. She considers herself “deeply infatuated by nature,” including the shape of it, the context by which it exists, and the way it changes. This is often reflected in her designs. For example, although they are made of clay, some of her larger vases give the impression of petrified wood. In a unique way, Uribe-Horta is able to embrace nature’s multitudes.
Naturally, she also draws inspiration from her travels. A bit of a global citizen, Fernanda Uribe-Horta can’t help but be impacted by the various places she has encountered. In fact, she and her husband, Matteo Prodani, were so affected upon discovering a particular material at a market in Morocco that they actually started a shoe brand. Ramati Goods makes moccasins using a special material called raffia, a plant-based material frequently used to bind things together because of its unique combination of tautness and flexibility. The couple is excited to bring this new standard of sustainable fashion to Greenpoint.
A clear visionary, Uribe-Horta remains confident in her choice to only create pieces that are one of a kind. No duplicates. All her decorative and functional pieces are a labor of love. When I asked her if she feared the delicacy of her pieces, she said that she “understands the life expectancy of fragile pieces is included in the beauty of them.”
The Timeless Appeal
To me, her work is contemplative. I look at the pieces and wonder about the women in her work, the animals, the origin of the inspiration. With an essence of antiquity, the vases in particular are reminiscent of a time and place we would not normally be privileged to experience. But in this case, there’s no need to question the who, the why, the what, as you would in a museum. We’re lucky enough to know who and why — and isn’t that the best part about living here?
You can find her work on Instagram or on her website. She currently offers private classes in the home and hopes to soon move into a space in Greenpoint with a few other sculptors that can serve as an accessible showroom and creative studio.