Sana Musasama

Returning to Ourselves


Sana Musasama is a ceramic artist based in Queens, New York. Musasama received her BA from City College of New York in 1973 and her MFA from Alfred University in 1988. She began traveling in the 1970s as a way to recover her own identity and cultural place. Clay was the geographical catalyst that brought her first to West Africa, where she studied pottery with the Mende People in Sierra Leone (1974-75). She later ventured to Japan, China, South America, and Cambodia. She has expanded her interests to tribal adornment practices in various Indigenous cultures. She is challenged by the concerns surrounding the safety of women, specifically the rituals involving rites of passage, female chastity and the “purification” of the female body.

Musasama, along with eight girls, formed The Apron Project in Cambodia—a sustainable entrepreneurial project for girls and young women reintegrated back into society after being forced into the commercial sex industry. The Apron Project creates beautiful, one-of-a-kind aprons that are sold on her Etsy store. Musasama began volunteering in Cambodia in 2007, and for 16 years, she self-funded these trips. More information on The Apron Project can be found at

Musasama’s travels have transformed her and her approach to clay. Realizing that clay is universal, she believes that there is no dichotomy between her life and her work. Her trekking has taught her valuable lessons in observation, and her mission speaks of a global citizen who walks through the artwork, heart first. Musasama’s work is informed by history, women’s studies, culture, and her travel journal.

Throughout her career, she has drawn inspiration from travel and research into global cultures. Returning to Ourselves centers around a series of dolls, based on African-American topsy turvy dolls. Musasama uses this formal structure to juxtapose figures drawn from the global Black diaspora. Returning to Ourselves is rounded out by a series of ceramic houses she began early in her career and returned to during the pandemic.

Sana Musasama
Topsy Turvy Doll, 2022
ceramic and
mixed media,
12 x11 x 11½ inches

Sana Musasama
House, 2023
Glazed earthenware,
22½ x 11 x 11 inches

I use my craft, my art, to bring attention to these issues.
I feel my work is my personal instrument of change. Also, by creating these stories, I am finding a way to comfort myself or, better yet, to get the pain of what I see from inside me into the work for the world to see. The girls give me power.

—Sana Musasama,
Litchfield County Times,
October 19, 2012
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