Beholding a sculptural vessel built by ceramist Serra Kizar feels a bit like discovering an archaic artifact. Crafted from textural stoneware clay or smooth terra-cotta, each creation proudly displays the imperfections of a piece made entirely by hand and seemingly exposed to years of wear.

Since childhood, Kizar has been inspired by the art of ancient civilizations—“things that were dug up or taken from the sea,” she says. After finding her passion for ceramics just five years ago, in an elective art class at Naropa University, the Boulder-based maker has been most influenced by vessels created by Mediterranean and Asian cultures. “I’m looking at a lot of symmetrical historical pieces, and my designs look like them, except that they’re a little bit off, a little wonky,” she says of the vases, pots, platters, and bowls she shows at galleries across the state and creates for commissioning clients. “And I totally embrace that. I’m not trying to make a perfect object.”

Working from a studio in Boulder and a remote property in southern New Mexico, Kizar creates her delicate forms quickly and extemporaneously, blending long coils of clay with her fingers to create each vessel’s walls. “I get into a bit of a flow state; I tend to [treat it like] a marathon and will finish a piece in a day—or if it’s a really big piece, maybe two,” she says. “When I begin a vessel, I have a certain idea or shape in mind, but [the clay is] such an organic material that I’m also following where it’s taking me.”

Artist Serra Kizar holds a large dimpled vase that she crafted from clay. Photo by Jimena Peck

Equally intuitive are Kizar’s embellishments, which range from ragged tears in the clay or tiny indentations made by her fingertips to thin coats of clay slip “that create a lot of different textures and crackly bits,” she says. A matte turquoise glaze is the boldest hue in her understated palette. “I don’t like the glossy stuff; I don’t want to cover things up,” she explains.

After all, Kizar adds, the simple act of creating a timeless, functional vessel is what drew her to ceramics in the first place. “That,” she says, “and the pure earthiness of the clay.”

Kizar’s vessels generally range in price from $200–$2,000. To purchase a piece or send an inquiry, visit Select works can also be found at the New Local nonprofit gallery in Boulder.