Hands That Mold

A thin beam of light fills a tiny studio on a cold Arcata night as a ceramic piece is taking shape. Clay, paint, and tools litter the studio all the while Chet Baker plays in the background, the ideal ingredients for creativity.

Jacky Montalvo, a senior who is originally from Carson, California, came to Humboldt State to study psychology but has since changed her major to art education after realizing that the structure of psychology didn’t resonate well with her.

“I was very expressive and always like to make shit, do crafts and what not,” Montalvo said. “I got into fashion for a bit so I sewed a lot and drawing too. I would always draw. There was even a period where I was into theater.”

It wasn’t until high school when she met an art teacher who highly influenced her to move into art. It was this teacher that got Montalvo into ceramics as well as choosing HSU to continue her studies.

“She was the one that really pushed me to coming here and before I left she told me that I have the touch of clay, that I need to keep doing this,” Montalvo said.

Montalvo has a variety of art mediums that she works with, but ceramics and photography are her current focuses. Working with ceramics teaches her to find patience, clarity, balance and centeredness.  

“If you are not there in the moment it shows in your work,” Montalvo said. “You have to enter that trance, you have to get into that feeling and that’s what I live for. I love that feeling.”

Montalvo’s interest in photography also came with academic influence.

“I always felt that photography wasn’t an art like you only just see a picture,” Montalvo said. “But it wasn’t until I took my first photo class that I saw how conceptual, how beautiful, and how strong, these images can be.”

Montalvo recently came back from a summer trip to Mexico which helped reinforce her photography skills and ended up manifesting an interest in street photography.

“When I was in Mexico that’s where I felt more interested in street photography,” Montalvo said. “I was shy asking people to take photos of them but I was with my friend Cindy and she would encourage me to ask them and 90 percent of the time it was like ‘Claro que si.’ Then like they would share their story with me and I feel that it made the trip so much better.”

She is currently working on projects that include a series of ceramic cups that she wants to have finished by next year to sell and have ready for art shows over the summer. Also in the works is a photo series based on dreams.

“I feel like as of now I would like to move somewhere new,” Montalvo said. “Connect with a new community, work with artists, do any teaching that I can, workshops, sell and continue doing art and working with people.”

You can follow her on Instagram @novakaht

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