OLLA’s Mission

Rosa Nejo with Olla, Campo band of the San Diego Kumeyaay Nation, 1918.

Olla; A wide bellied, narrow necked form, using naturally accessible materials; filters water, irrigates crops, stores wet or dry goods, and is central to family traditions and spiritual practices. This same shape can found around the globe, used by cultures dating back to 100BC. This intersection and promotion of art, science and culture is the mission of Olla. Can we invent new concepts informed by and credited to the indigenous cultures that laid their framework? Can nature help us in this venture, so we can remember we are not separate from it? How do labs flow from forest to dry room? Apple to the Amazon? With all of our resources and intellect how do we find a holistic way forward?

Current Projects


Materials collected by marine researchers from the ocean floor, used as surface pigments and glazes.

Left: Slip tests of marine sediments painted on porcelain tiles, fired to multiple temperatures, ranging from 600’C to 1200’C, exploring their molecular and visual transformations when exposed to oxidized heat.


World Pigment Canvases 2024

Using foraged clay from my childhood home valley as the base for pigments, stones and sediments collected from around the world.

Fragments of collected pigments, Olla Ceramics studio

Lake bed slip from Los Gatos, CA

Oceanic pterpod slip, powdered shale and fault canyon clay on mountain earthenware vase, 2023

Iron rich, earthenware clay under a microscope. Parent material predominantly decomposed granite, 2022.

Processing wild stoneware from the Scottish Highlands, 2022.

Krebs Cycle of Creativity ll, Neri Oxman of The Mediated Matter Group at MIT Media Lab in 2018.