Ventura Breeze

Art from the Soul: Sonya Burke

by Emily Thiroux
The Heart of the Artist


Sonya Burke’s sweet smile welcomes you to Art and Soul Studios at 271 South Laurel. Just follow the path of muddy footprints from the street down the alley to find a cozy front yard complete with a fountain and ceramic sculptures set up in the corner of the parking lot by the front door of the studio. I discovered Art and Soul when I first moved to Ventura and was looking for a studio space to do ceramics, and Sonya’s place was ideal. She has a very large open room divided into separate areas for artists to work. There a several potter’s wheels, work tables, a slab roller, and two kilns. Artists can either rent a space to work and keep their supplies, or they may come in using a subscription type service to work for a few hours a month. The space is within walking distance of the pier and the beach. What a wonderful place to create!

Sonya started with ceramics after years of being a wife, mother, and elementary school teacher. She found that she needed to do something just for herself to express her creativity, so she started learning about ceramics. Her love of primitive art led her to start creating ceramic masks. Her omni-cultural faces seem to contain stories you can imagine just by looking at them. She uses different natural looking colors and textures and enhances the surfaces by stamping and carving in designs. She also enhances them with natural found materials like driftwood, and sticks. And she weaves in beads and beautiful threads. Each mask is entirely different from the rest.

Sonya stays involved in the community by participating with the Ventura County Potter’s Guild, selling her work at the gallery/store at Ventura Harbor Village, and entering her work in shows at the Ventura Artists’ Union gallery at the beach at the foot of South California Street.
Emily Thiroux

Sonya also teaches hand building ceramic classes at Art and Soul Studios, and other ceramists who have found their home there teach private classes in throwing ceramics on the potter’s wheel. If you ever wanted to try your hand at ceramics, this is the place. There’s nothing like experiencing taking a lump of clay, forming it into and object, glazing it, and firing it and ending up with a work of art that will stand the test of time. We’ve learned so much about cultures and history from the bits and pieces of ceramics they have left behind.

Stop by the Ventura County Potter’s Guild gallery/store at Ventura Harbor Village to see her work, and the work of 16 other Ventura County ceramists. This is a great place to buy holiday gifts!



I hope you’ll introduce me to artists you want to learn more about. Contact me through Facebook at The Heart of the Artist. Or email me at emily@theheartoftheartist. And I hope that you’ll read my  heart of the artist blog and support the artists I feature.


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