Artist Spotlight: Natalie Lett

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The two final projects for art majors at UD, junior and senior synopsis, consist of a display of all the most important projects an art major has produced up to that point, which are then judged by professors. Senior ceramics major Natalie “Nat” Lett,  one of the students undertaking the project this year, said, “The pieces displayed are meant to show the progress I’ve made.” 

Lett has a particular interest in vases — so much so that she chose to make a set of composite vases for her junior synopsis. “I had been really interested in vases because of my interest and love for flowers,” she said. The composite vases consist of a main body with smaller parts added on, similar to a teapot. 

While deciding what to display for junior synopsis, Lett had not initially considered a composite vase design, preferring functional ware. 

“My professor had sort of challenged me to take a step back from what you would view a traditional vase as, and to sort of make it into composite, which was something out of my comfort zone because I don’t especially lean towards something that is a little bit more abstracted,” Lett said. 

 Lett displayed her vases with azaleas and ivy to show the functionality of the different parts of each vase. Creating a slightly more abstract but still functional piece helped form Lett’s way of thinking. “It kind of set me on that direction of looking at forms and how the design or the shape of it is going to either sell to the person viewing it or is going to be a total loss,” she said. 

The primary emphasis of Lett’s art, however, remains in the practical, present in the bowls and vases she made for junior and senior synopsis. “I would say my goals with my art is just functionality. At least now that’s really a goal that I’m working towards.”

For her senior synopsis, scheduled to be on display in April, Lett plans to display a set of ceramic bowls depicting koi fish, a recurring interest in her work that began a long time ago. 

“I think it probably just began with looking at an encyclopedia book,” Lett said. “The koi fish, the shape of it is just something that seemed to be so different. Specifically butterfly koi fish, and just being able to look at their colors.” 

Koi fish fit especially well with Lett’s art because of their naturally fluid aesthetic. Every piece is painted so that the artwork organically fits with the shape of the piece. 

Lett said, “Rather than just having a kind of a stamp on a surface that is really flat with no dynamic, I like to incorporate the fish,  the tail just sort of swirling over the edge of the bowl and on the rim, you can see a fin on both sides.” 

Lett emphasizes the functionality of everyday use greatly in her art. She described the experience of selling some of her art at the end of spring semester 2021 and wanting people to be able to physically interact with each piece.

“At first they sort of stood back, but it was one of those, where I just kind of looked at them and I was wanting it to be a very disarming experience of, No, you can totally pick that up and you can look at it,” Lett said.

While pursuing aesthetic beauty, Lett is also keen to find the beauty in being able to use a piece of artwork in everyday life.

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