Words: Thomas Wensma
Publication: SOLO Magazine 7
Published: January 2022 


You could say Debbie Carlos always had an inclination towards art. After taking the more traditional route of studying psychology during college and not really liking it, she went to study Fine Arts with an emphasis on photography, at the School of the Art institute of Chicago. Her aptitude for capturing simple, universal scenes and ambiguity shines in her collection of images from her photography work.

A desire to create something more tangible led Carlos into making ceramics. "I wanted to make something not only beautiful, but also useful. Things you could hold, interact with and have it be part of your daily life," she says.

Born in Los Angeles, she spent her youngest years living in California. Her parents met in college in LA, got married, and stayed to raise their family there for the first 10 years. It was when her father decided to start a business back home in Manila, that they moved there. Looking back at those years, Carlos recalls her teenage years in Manilla as being the most influential. "Even though I spent more time in LA than in Manila, I don’t have many memories or an emotional connection to California other than some childhood memories and having family that lives there. When I went to college in the States, I didn't move back to LA, so my formative years were truly in Manila. I definitely think of it as my hometown and being a more important part of my identity."

Most of her ceramic work is influenced by the graphic, architectural forms that can be found within the modern architecture and significant number of brutalist buildings in the city of Manilla. "I don’t think I was aware of it at the time, but it's definitely something I came to appreciate later on, and now see as having a connection with my work. It's an aesthetic I really love and enjoy playing with—especially with the sculptural pipes that I make," she says.