The Brazilian sculptor Celeida Tostes was born in 1929 and died in 1995 in Rio de Janeiro. In 1955 she studied printmaking with the artist Oswaldo Goeldi (1895–1961) at the Universidade do Brasil. In 1957 Tostes completed training as a drawing teacher at the same institution. In 1958 and 1959 she studied at the University of Southern California, Los Angeles, having her first solo exhibition at that institution in 1959. She also studied at New Mexico Highlands University in Las Vegas. In New Mexico she worked as an intern with the clay artist Maria Martinez (1887–1980). The experience had a profound impact on Tostes, who from then on dedicated herself to clay. Tostes explored the plasticity of the material in a wide range of formats, from a series of small objects to large pieces incorporated into stage sets, performances, and installations. She often worked collaboratively with artists and nonartists. A devoted teacher, Tostes organized numerous art projects with underprivileged communities. In 1975 she received a scholarship from the British Council to further her ceramic skills at the Cardiff School of Art and Design in Wales. Back in Brazil, she became involved with the Escola de Artes Visuais do Parque Lage, where she researched and taught ceramics and metalwork. In 1979 she created Passagem (Passage), a combination of sculpture and performance, documented in photographs, in which two assistants enclosed the naked artist in a large clay vessel, from which she emerged moments later. A turning point in her career, Passagem marks her commitment to clay. In 1980 she began teaching ceramics in the low-income community Morro do Chapéu Mangueira, a program that lasted fifteen years. Her works from the 1980s include the installations Aldeia Funarius rufus and O muro (The wall) and the large-scale sculptures Bastões (Bats), Guardiães (Guardians), Mós (Millstones), and Moinhos (Mills). In 1990 Tostes, Angelo Venosa (b. 1954), Luiz Pizarro (b. 1958), and Maurício Bentes (1958–2003) founded the collective workshop Casarão da Lapa, a space for the exhibition and creation of art. Tostes participated in important exhibitions such as Des architectures de terre, Centre Pompidou, Paris (1984); Encuentro de ceramistas contemporáneos de América latina, Museo de Arte de Ponce, San Juan (1986); and 1st Bienal Barro de América, Caracas (1993). Tostes received the Gustavo Capanema Award (1982) at the 5th Salão Nacional de Belas Artes, Rio de Janeiro. Her last exhibition was in 1994, a year before she died at the age of sixty-six. Tostes's works are part of important collections, including the Museu de Arte de São Paulo; Museu Nacional de Belas Artes, Rio de Janeiro; and Museo de Arte de Ponce, Puerto Rico.
—Mari Rodriguez Binnie
Selected Solo Exhibitions
1959 Celeida Tostes, University of Southern California, Los Angeles
1979 Celeida Tostes: Cerâmicas, Galeria Rodrigo Mello Franco de Andrade, Rio de Janeiro
1987 Celeida Tostes, Galeria César Aché, Rio de Janeiro
1994 Celeida Tostes, Sala Ismael Nery, Centro de Artes Calouste Gulbenkian, Rio de Janeiro
2003 Celeida Tostes: Artes do fogo, do sal e da paixão, Centro Cultural Banco do Brasil, Rio de Janeiro
Brigagão, Clóvis. Celeida Tostes: Mós e bastões. Rio de Janeiro: Universidade Federal Fluminense, 1991.
Costa, Marcus de Lontra. Arte do fogo, do sal e da paixão: Celeida Tostes. Rio de Janeiro: Centro Cultural Banco do Brasil, 2003.
Frota, Lélia Coelho. Celeida Tostes: Escultura. Rio de Janeiro: Galeria César Aché, 1987.
Lontra Costa, Marcus de, and Raquel Silva, eds. Celeida Tostes. Rio de Janeiro: Memória Visual, 2014.
Pinto, Regina Célia. Celeida Tostes. Rio de Janeiro: Museu do Essencial do Além Disso, 2006.