Monday, September 18, 2023

C’est Clay! The Ceramic Sculptures of Sasha Koozel Reibstein

 By Lonnie Burstein Hewitt. Photos by Maurice Hewitt.


At the September 9th opening, ICA-San Diego curator Jordan Karney Chaim and Executive Director Andrew Ütt posed on either side of the artist Sasha Koozel Reibstein with It Might Be Mystic, made of clay, glass, semi-precious stones and mixed media.

Born in Boston and raised in Philadelphia, Sasha Koozel Reibstein originally set out to be a writer. Drawn to the University of Michigan by its creative writing program, everything changed when she took a ceramics class in her freshman year.

“Once I touched clay, there was nothing else in my life,” she said at the opening of her exhibit at ICA San Diego/North. She ended up with a BFA in Ceramics and Painting, and then went back to Boston for a Master’s degree in Ceramics and Sculpture.

Philadelphia’s gritty urban landscape, full of graffiti and murals, was a big influence on her artwork, but when she was offered a faculty position at Palomar College in 2006, she happily accepted, and came to San Diego. “Teaching is in my blood,” she said. “My father and brother are both professors.”

For almost two decades now, she has been teaching ceramics at Palomar, while continuing to create her own art and do short-term residencies in the U.S. and abroad.

Her ceramic sculptures mix earthiness and luster, and while her work has been exhibited in galleries around the world, in places like Beijing, Berlin, and the Quint Gallery in La Jolla, this showing of six recent pieces is her first solo museum show in San Diego and includes two of the largest pieces she has ever made.


The End is Near the Beginning: The title piece, and the largest in the show.

The artist with All Light Returns.

 This was the first piece I started, but with the show’s title in mind,” she said. “I work intuitively; I start out with a general plan and listen to the works as they evolve. I like to push each piece to its breaking point, because I want to talk about resilience, so I work till the clay can’t take it anymore. And clay literally becomes more resilient the more you work it; it has to go through fire to become strong. All Light Returns emphasizes an inherent optimism, that even in the darkest moments, we know the light will return.”

#1 of three smaller pieces: Metaphoric Minerals 

#2: Eternities

#3: Low-Key Feels

At the opening: Hugh Davies, Director Emeritus of the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego, and his wife, Faye Hunter.


The artist and her husband, performance artist Jones von Jonestein. He’ll be part of the Haunted House experience at Bread and Salt Gallery next month.


Sasha Koozel Reibstein: The End is Near the Beginning
Through October 8, 2023
ICA San Diego/North
1550 S. El Camino Real, Encinitas,CA
Meet the artist on two Sundays in October, Oct. 1 and Oct. 8.
More info: 

Lonnie Burstein Hewitt is an award-winning author/lyricist/playwright who has been writing about arts and lifestyles in San Diego County for over a dozen years. You can reach her at

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