St. Petersburg ceramist uses art to speak on social justice

When you think about art, often times it's beautiful to look at. But beauty isn't the only goal for one St. Petersburg artist. Shelly Steck-Reale's art addresses messages of social justice

Creating art from clay is a language Steck-Reale, loves to speak.

"I've been pouring all of my effort into my work hoping that somebody will see it, and it will make a difference," she said.

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Photo: Shelly Steck-Reale art

When Steck-Reale was a child, she went on social justice marches with her mom. Years later, those memories led the St. Pete ceramist to create her powerful pieces of art.

"We can share ideas through different kind of venues," said Steck-Reale. "And, you know, I think art reaches you more."  

Her piece called "Banned" won an honorable mention in the Beyond Words: Celebrating Books as Art show at Craft Art in St. Pete. 

"It's a Black woman holding a book, Maya Angelou and Still I Rise, which has been banned in the state of Florida. And the piece is a kind of a protest on banning books," Steck-Reale said. 

Photo: "Banned" art piece

The non-profit art gallery has more than 70 pieces in the exhibit. 

"It's a representation of each artist's personality and of what's going on in our community," said Tyler Jones, Chairman of the Board at Florida Craft Art. "And that artist has a creative voice in which they can convey their message through their work." 

Shelly is now working on an 18 piece social and environmental justice exhibit for next year. Beauty isn't the focus of Shelly's pieces. Hers is a message of social justice and commentary. 

"My things aren't maybe as beautiful. I'm hoping that they provoke conversation. I'm hoping that they provoke thought. I'm hoping that they help people see things in a different way," the artist said. 

Her exhibit will be up until the end of the month. For more information visit: