Paola Gracida: Ceramicist and Instructor

Join Paola's Frida Kahlo's Garden Virtual Presentation on ZOOM June 4th, at 5:00 PM EST

Click the link to register for the event!

Working as a designer and life circumstances led me to live abroad in different countries. Moving constantly provided me with a diverse background dosed with contrasting cultures.

Over the years, contemplating Mexican, Swedish, Finnish, Brazilian and American cultures, taught me to question my own perceptions of life and beliefs. At the end it transcends any cultural cliché and becomes ‘human’.

Having to start over in life multiple times, time and self reflection have become significant tools to me. It awakens my perception and capability of receiving and letting go of things that define me. It makes me aware of my own fundamental existence, and how I can change without losing myself.

There is something about ceramics that is similar to this life experience. Clay as a material is such a dynamic medium: It is constantly changing and the process of ceramics literally pulls you to be in the present, giving you a continuous feedback, reflecting all your actions. It educates your movements mastered through repetition.

Through my work I want to convey contrast and openness at the same time. I am interested in creating pieces with an essence that can be redefined by others. They make the process of time and different cultures tangible.Born in Mexico City, I studied Industrial Design at the National University of Mexico UNAM, and graduated with a Master in Advanced Product Design at the Umea Institute of Design, Sweden.

Currently I live in Saint Joseph, Michigan and work as a ceramics teacher at Krasl Art Center.

The South Haven Center for the Arts looks forward to Paola's curation of the Exhibition, Common Thread. Look out for Common Thread during our 2021 Exhibition season. Check out Paola's website to shop her work and learn more about her practice.

Paola Gracida is a South Haven Center for the Arts Artist Member. As a benefit of this membership level, we are proud to be featuring Artists Members on our blog. If you are an artist member and want to be featured, email us at Want to be an artist member? See more information here:

Dear friends of the South Haven Center for the Arts,

As many of you know, the staff, board, and volunteers have been preparing for an exhibition this summer from National Endowment for the Humanities, Frida Kahlo's Garden. We signed the contract to receive this exhibition back in December of 2017, and many hours of hard work have been put into preparing to receive and execute such a large exhibition, as well as planning to fill the summer with accompanying events and programming. Both the Frida Kahlo's Garden and the Exhibition Advisory Committees worked with community partners, art teachers, and artists to put grand and detailed plans in place. So it is with true disappointment that I share with you that we have had to cancel the traveling exhibition. Due to the Covid-19 situation's effect on the timing and the heightened risk to our staff, volunteers, members, and visitors, there was too much to overcome. We are currently on a waiting list to receive the exhibition in the future, but this possibility remains unclear. 

Now, it is with extreme pride and gratitude that I share that our organization has been able to pivot quickly and to lean into the work we can do at this time. We will continue to bring the spirit and inspiration of Frida Kahlo and her garden to South Haven through a garden and poster exhibition in the downtown as well on the outside of the art center, through online events and exhibitions, and through your participation.

The work we were putting into the Frida Kahlo's Garden was with the intent of expanding the Center's mission to enrich our community through the arts to a heightened capacity and reach and to grow the audience that is represented in our work. As the director, I am so proud of all that we are learning, and to see our organization grow stronger during this time. It is with the support of the board, our members and volunteers, that we continue to shine. 

Please join us in a creative and inspiring summer. Get ready by reading Carol Trittschuh's blog post to visit Frida Kahlo's Casa Azul along side her. Then visit our newest online exhibitionBeyond, Behind, Beneath...Narrative Self-Portraiture a National Juried Exhibition of artists inspired by the self-portraiture work of Frida Kahlo. If you have been making Ojo de dios- don't stop we do need them! Check back on our website, we will be posting all the activities as plans finalize.

Lastly, please mark your calendar for 5pm on Thursday, June 4th  to join artist Paola Gracida on ZOOM as she beautifully ties in our current moment to the work, garden and life of Frida Kahlo, and explores how the Center and our community can embrace this opportunity in Frida's spirit. Register in advance here. 

With gratitude,

Kerry Hagy

Executive Director

South Haven Center for the Arts

Jennifer Sistrunk Graphic Designer

South Haven, Michigan


Artist Bio

I am a long-time resident of the beautiful town of South Haven, Michigan. After graduating from South Haven High School in 2004 with 4 years of high school art instruction, I directly began studying fine arts and graphic design at Lake Michigan College. Later, I continued to study communication design at Harrington College of Design in Chicago, Illinois. I am currently the in-house graphic designer for the South Haven/Van Buren County Convention and Visitors Bureau. I feel truly fortunate to work closely with leaders in my community sharing the beauty of our town and surrounding area.

Artist Statement

I am very inspired by my hometown. It really is beautiful here, not just the landscape but the people too. People and sunsets of all colors. Maybe that is why I use such an eclectic color pallet in most of my designs. The colors are sort of just all over the place! I never really noticed it, until a handful of people pointed out how they could recognize by design style. A senior designer once told me, “This book breaks all the rules of design, but somehow it works perfectly!” I took that as a compliment.

Favorite Art Tool

My favorite tool is simply a sketchbook. All my ideas begin there. Much of my work is created digitally, but it always starts with scribbles and notes in my sketchbook. They go everywhere with me and I’ve kept every one I’ve ever owned. They are like tiny little time capsules filled with my thoughts and creativity.

Also, my largest project of the year is the "South Haven Destination Guide". The most recent hard copies can be picked up at the South Haven Visitors Bureau. is where you can find my portfolio and contact information.

To explore South Haven Color the Town Coloring Pages created by Jennifer, click the link below

South Haven Coloring Pages

Jennifer Sistrunk is a South Haven Center for the Arts Artist Member. As a benefit of this membership level, we are proud to be featuring Artists Members on our blog. If you are an artist member and want to be featured, email us at Want to be an artist member? See more information here:

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© Copyright 2014 South Haven Center for the Arts. All rights reserved.                The SHCA is a 501(c)3 Non-Profit Organization.

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