Born in Woodstock, Josephine Heilpern—the genius ceramicist behind the mod-minimalist line Recreation Center—moved with her fam to their native Buenos Aires when she was nine. But by the time the budding artist was 14, her parents decided that if she was going to make a name for herself in this crazy world, New York was the place to do it. Off she went—alone!—to live with family friends and attend the famed LaGuardia Arts then, soon enough, Cooper Union. Printmaking was her passion during her tenure there—that is, until a summer spent on an idyllic farm upstate pointed her in a different direction.
The spot had a small ceramics shack, and, as soon as Josephine started getting busy there, something clicked for her. “I came from an art practice making things that sit on a wall or a shelf. But when you are eating off a plate you made, it changes the meal,” she explains. She began getting serious about pottery classes and discovered that she really had something to say with clay—melding classic, linear shapes with beautifully stark colors in pieces meant to work hard, she launched Recreation Center in 2012. “What gives me the most pleasure about what I make is that people are using it every day,” she says. “When someone Instagrams something, it gives me goosebumps and makes me want to cry every single time.” —jackie varriano