Ceramicist Aidan Fraser, a.k.a. Luster Hustler, is inspired by humanity and the female form.
No one knows how truly beautiful they are in another’s eyes.
Ceramicist Aidan Fraser, a.k.a. Luster Hustler, sculpts the body. Based in Portland, Maine, she is a full time artist and gallery manager at small painting gallery in New Harbor. Inspired by humanity and the female form, Fraser’s sculptures and thrown pieces come to life with every organic fold and crevice.
A ‘body’ of work
She attended the University of Southern Maine, earning a degree in Liberal Art Studies with focuses in art, women and gender studies, and race and ethics.
“My degree just gave me clear insight into the reality of people's lived experiences,” she said. “And that lights a fire in me.”
Through her practice, she is beginning to connect the deep tragedy and epic beauty that make up the human experience. Her work helps her begin to understand her own body and becoming comfortable with things society says she shouldn’t be comfortable with.
“It's so weird to be able to look at someone's body and really find someone beautiful, but I know that if, if that was my body, I would not,” she said. “There's a weird disconnect there that I'm trying to figure out, but it’s most human thing, you know? We all have a body.”
With every new piece, Fraser is solidifying her motivations and inspirations in her work. Her work explores different parts of the body, with the thrown forms being organic and fun, she also sculpts eye ornaments and has sterling silver casts of her wisdom teeth available as a necklace.
Fraser loves to creating commissioned sculptures when she can. The vulnerable process of sculpting someone’s body is incredibly special for her.
“I can’t believe that people trust me with this process, it is such an honor,” she said. “And the messages I get afterward are so fulfilling, I just can’t believe I get to do that for people.”
Growing up, she was always supported in her creativity and takes after her mom, who is also drawn to human forms in art.
“She has always just done things her own way,” she said. “And I realize I'm more like my mother than I ever thought I would be. She was entrepreneurial and just envisions shit that isn't there yet and then makes it happen. And I certainly am from the same ilk.”
Fraser has been surrounded by many strong women, like Meg Walsh and Catherine Walton, as she found her footing as a full time artist. Working with Walsh at C&M Ceramics has been a huge reason Fraser has thrived as an artist.
“She's just really kick ass,” she said. “Having her as a direct role model that I work with every week has been more influential and more impactful than I could have ever hoped. And I really would hope that any emerging artists would have someone like that to lean on for help.”
While she sells a lot of her work online, Portland is an incredibly supportive community for the arts. Fraser is often at craft fairs and markets where she loves being able to talk with people who connect with her pieces. But, reactions are not always ideal.
“There are certain people who openly laugh or think I’m making caricatures,” she said. “It's been an interesting sort of social experiment, learning how to be confident in situations like that and stand up for myself and my work.”
The birth of ‘Luster Hustler’
Like for so many artists around the world, the pandemic had a huge impact on her art. Fraser was finishing her senior year of college when COVID started, resulting in her taking a bag of clay and some tools home to finish some work for a class.
In an earlier ceramics class, Fraser discovered the powerful effect luster can have on a piece. The iridescent metallic overglaze, with particles of gold suspended in pine oil resin, requires a third firing. Now, her work is never without it.
“I was in my kitchen with my friends, before I started my Instagram,” she said. “I was thinking, Who am I? Just Aiden Fraser Ceramics is so lackluster, and then one of my friends said, “You're hustling luster, you're the luster hustler.” And I thought that was the sickest name!”
With her newly named Instagram account for her art, she began sharing and selling her countertop creations, and has never stopped since. Moving her work space from her apartment to a studio, she gradually worked from having just a small shelf to an entire studio space for herself. Making the decision to be a full time artist was almost easy, as she went from a full time student and waitress to ceramicist because of the pandemic.
“Bodies of Work”
When Fraser isn’t rocking out to music in the studio, she is showing her work around the larger Portland area. She currently has a form being shown in the Portland Museum of Art’s “Art in Bloom” show, March 29th through April 2nd. The show brings together local florists to create bouquets based on work in the museum. Harmon’s Floral Company reached out to Fraser to have one of her larger busts be the vessel for their bouquet.
She was also recently part of an exhibition at the Portland Media Center. “Bodies of Work” explored the lived experiences of those with femme presenting bodies.
Featuring work from Haley Linnet, Quinn Evans, Natalie Nelson, and Fraser, the community embraced the show and everything it had to say. The four artists are now in talks about the next project they can do together.
“The reaction from the public has been great, and people say, ‘We've been waiting for a show like this,” Fraser said. “It’s really good to be providing the community something they really needed and wanted.”
Fraser’s work is conquering big issues and ideas and being recognized not only in Maine but in Florida as well. The Charlie Cummings Gallery, in Gainesville, FL, requested some of her work to be in their upcoming exhibition “Body Pots,” that will be on display for a year.
Luster Hustler has grown from Fraser’s kitchen into her own small business as she explores what it means to have a body, and how difficult it is to find it beautiful.
“I'm in a femme presenting body and that is extremely empowering, but also holds a lot of weight, and tragedy,” she said. “My work is me trying to understand my own body and becoming comfortable with the things that I've been told I shouldn't be comfortable with. So in a way, I study or make these bodies over and over again because I'm still trying to understand myself.”
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