Abiam Alvarez is a ceramicist based in Gilroy, California. He spent the first nine years of his life in Leon Guanajuato, Mexico, before migrating to the United States in 1999 and settling in the small California town of Firebaugh, a farming community surrounded by fields of crop. Growing up, Abiam experienced working in the agricultural industry by spending his summers in the fields and attending school the rest of the year. His roots are closely tied to the central valley, where he grew up, and creates artwork that speaks of the labors and political issues surrounding agriculture, consumerism, and immigrant workers.
Abiam is a first-generation college student in his family. He attended California State University, Fresno, where he earned a BA in art and design with an emphasis in ceramics and sculpture. He later returned to earn his single subject teaching credential in art to teach high school art courses. In 2019, Abiam earned his MFA degree at San Jose State University. He currently resides in Gilroy, CA and teaches both high school and college ceramics while also working on his own pottery and sculptures. He has 18 years of ceramics experience and continues to learn about the processes of contemporary ceramics and historical ceramics.
I get a feeling of nostalgia for dirt from when I used to work various agriculturally related jobs in the central valley during summers. Clay is the closest material that fulfills this nostalgic feeling as it allows me to get dirty, physical, and work with my hands.
The fields have been harvested and the produce has been processed, packaged, and is heading out for delivery. As we drive past the familiar fields of California’s Central Valley and Salinas Valley we see the massive planes of land – the never-ending crops stretched to the horizon – and the farm workers who follow behind the tractor ahead, picking them. The abundance of crops gives us a great sense of comfort, a sense that is amplified as we casually stroll through the isles overflowing, abundant with produce; there is great value placed on the goods from the valleys.