Maryam Riazi & her Creatures of Delight

I came across Maryam Riazi’s instagram account by chance a while ago and fell in love with the her spiky blue creatures. Since then, I have been following her art work with delight and I even have one of her pieces sitting in my living room. I just love looking at the little monster. Maybe I should name him! Maryam Riazi’s style is totally unique. her work aligns with her life story and principles: we give more than we take.

I am thrilled to introduce her to you on Abi's Journal now.

Apart from being in admiration of your work, I know very little about you. Could you take a moment to introduce yourself to the readers? Where are you from, where do you live, what is your background?

I was born and raised in Shiraz, Iran. A year into the Iran-Iraq War, I left Iran, saying goodbye to my family and everything I knew to move to Los Angeles. At first, I thought Los Angeles would be my temporary home and I would return to Shiraz once the war ended. But the war lasted 8 years, and by then, Los Angeles had become my home. I studied different fields but never ceramics. However, after taking a few community pottery classes at a local school as a hobby, I was hooked.

What sparked your love of sculpting? 

I have always loved working with my hands. It’s something I enjoyed as a kid and later on discovered was necessary to maintain my mental wellbeing! It takes a very strong spirit to witness the many sad events happening in the world, knowing there is not much one can do to help. Working with my hands is like magic. It helps me stay in the moment, learn to practice patience, and remember to always give more than I get...

What are the materials you love to work with best and what inspires you in the making of your 'little animal monsters'?

I tried out different mediums, including weaving, printmaking, casting and silversmithing. I truly love working with metal and clay. Both give me a tremendous amount of joy. I think I settled on working with clay because there are more clay-focused studios around me which makes it convenient and easier to work and make things.

I’ve always been inspired by nature, animals and people. My work—especially the pieces you called “little animal monsters”—are inspired, of course, by animals, but also by people I know. People, their characters and stories always is so inspiring. My travels are another source of inspiration, as seeing different cultures and learning about their history is just so enriching. By the way, what a great name you called my vessels! “Little animal monsters” fits them perfectly!

Your colour range is as unique as your shapes. Do you blend your own glaze? 

I’m lucky to be part of an amazing ceramic studio in Pasadena called Xiem Clay Centre. They not only provide us with around 20 different glazes, they also fire our work! Having said that, making my own glazes is something I definitely want to experiment with.

IG : maryamriazi

IG : maryamriazi

I would love to sneak into your atelier and watch you at work! The entire vibe, even on your instagram is so aligned. I can imagine you have very clear boundaries set up for your self in your life in order to preserve a certain 'slow-living' feel in the midst of this high speed digitalized trail of life? How do you preserve your haven?

A year ago I turned our tiny one-car garage into my pottery studio. I don’t have a kiln because there is no space for it, but it has everything else I need, and I could easily spend hours in my studio not knowing how the time went by.

On your page, you state that part of the profit from the sales of your sculptures goes to dog rescue foundations. Can you tell us a little more about this? Do you own dogs too from rescue shelters?

Pottery has always been a hobby for me and I am lucky that I don’t have to depend on it to pay my bills. Like many artists and makers, I don’t enjoy selling or marketing my work. At some point, I stopped getting excited about making things because I felt like I was adding to a pile of unused stuff. In a way, I was taking from the earth and not giving anything back, which felt purely selfish. I had to find homes for what I was making in order to get excited to make more things. By donating a part of my profit to help animals, I was able to get excited about selling my work. Now I look forward to selling my pieces because donating is the most joyful thing I do.

I’ve always had cats, but lately I’m mostly dog sitting rescued dogs. A few of my neighbors’ cats come here every day for some massages and treats. I would love to have a bunch of cats and dogs but I travel, so I wouldn’t feel good about owning any pets at the moment.

Are there any places that you can share in your home town where you get inspired, like to spend time, enjoy a good meal or other? 

I live in the vast, ever-changing city of Los Angeles. You could spend months discovering all the little city centers, amazing restaurants, galleries and museums. I will never get tired of exploring it!

I get inspired by lots of things, such as watching a certain character cross the street or watching a dog play; walking through a succulent nursery or going to the city’s many museums— Los Angeles is an engrossing mishmash of sounds and sights and textures. There are so many ways to be inspired by this city!

There are so many restaurants I love in Los Angeles: from hole-in-the-wall spots like Mh Zh in Silverlake and Daichan in Studio City to fancier eateries like Rustic Canyon in Santa Monica and Gjelina in Venice Beach.

I also enjoy exploring different neighborhoods in Los Angeles. Downtown LA is rapidly changing and has a lot to offer. I also love walking up and down Abbot Kinney and exploring its cool shops and cafes. Larchmont village, Silverlake and Montana Avenue in Santa Monica are also great neighborhoods to walk around.