Ever since he took his first ceramics class, Horacio Casillas ('18 M.F.A.) hasn't stopped making art. And he made plenty of it as the first graduate to participate in an artist-in-residence program made possible through a partnership between UNT's College of Visual Arts and Design and The Epic, a recreational facility based in Grand Prairie.
As part of the program, Casillas was provided a loft and studio where he was be able to work in countless mediums, including functional pottery with porcelain, throughout his stay.
"The offer was too good to pass up," Casillas says. "Having a place to make art, a place to live and a stipend right out of graduate school was quite the cushion."
The Epic boasts everything from indoor and outdoor fitness spaces and culinary and art classes to a recording studio and lakeside boardwalk. While at The Epic, Casillas taught a weekly art class, alternating between children and adults.
"My time at The Epic was fruitful," he says. "It allowed me the time and space to gather my thoughts and work on future applications."
During his residency, Casillas explored new processes and materials that he says will undoubtedly impact his work moving forward. He first became enthralled with ceramics as a student at Angelo State University.
"My work is inspired by nostalgia in terms of the surface and the colors," Casillas says. "But I'm also inspired by function and the notion that a piece I make will eventually be used and appreciated by someone."
Upon graduating from Angelo State University, Casillas went on to pursue a Master of Fine Arts at UNT.
"UNT has one of the best art programs in the country, and I knew it would be a great place for me to grow as an artist," he says.
The day the residency ended, Casillas left for Tennessee to start a six-week work-study position at Arrowmont School of Arts and Crafts. He went on to another work-study assignment at Penland School of Craft and, afterwards, plans to return to his hometown of San Angelo to work at the Old Chicken Farm Art Center as a production potter.
"I am a maker because it's my vocation," Casillas says. "The act of making is a way of mirroring God the Creator. God created me, therefore I create."