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WNC Business

Made in WNC - Pure Ritual

Jul 11, 2023 08:00AM ● By Randee Brown

Working as a ceramicist for 12 years, Nina Kara’s career in fine art and ceramics production allows connection to her community as well as to those who appreciate her art around the world.

Kawar received a Masters of Fine Art from Clemson University and began an art career in 2011. Having moved to Clemson, SC for school from California, she came to Asheville after graduation because she already knew people in the ceramics community and wanted to surround herself with those people.

After working with other artist studios, Kawar transitioned into her own space at Marshall High Studios in 2016. After receiving an invitation to participate in an art show at Blue Spiral 1, she purchased her own kiln and committed to doing more in her fine art work after that purchase. While simultaneously creating large sculptures and smaller pieces, a friend suggested she attend art shows to sell her smaller products. The Big Crafty was her first one.

“The Big Crafty was an eye-opening experience that I can really make money at my craft,” Kawar said. “I learned ways to engage with other makers and meet the community. There is a beautiful collection of passionate artists of a huge diversity here, and that is really inspiring.”

This experience led to an understanding of the workings of the craft world.  She said she shifted gears and established Pure Ritual, which is centered around a metaphysical theme, and learned to develop vision and clarity of her brand.

“At first my business was called ‘Nina K Designs,” Kawar said. “I was making everything from lanterns to jewelry, and I didn’t really have a brand. I felt called to share tools that were helping me along my own spiritual healing journey, and realized I was able to reach people at a different level than my fine art allows.”

Craft fairs and markets allow Kawar to see what items people are drawn to and connect directly to her customer base. She said a big part of her business is educating people on how to use her handmade products like pendulums and crystal grids, and if there is any curiosity from a visitor, she will hold space for them to ask questions.

With her fine art pieces, Kawar is either invited by gallery directors or will apply to participate in galleries and exhibitions. She said she is often not physically present at these shows, but will either ship or physically drive the pieces to locations in other states or countries. Not knowing if there will be revenue, paying to transport the pieces, and paying the gallery approximately 50% of the sale price of each piece, she said there is a lot of trust in the process knowing she will grow as an artist in one way or another.

Kawar said in the craft world, word-of-mouth is a big connector. She has worked with arts councils in both Asheville and Marshall, which led to the opportunity for curating the first show of her own. 

“I’m grateful for the artists that walked alongside me and showed me what was needed to be a curator,” she said. “There are so many beautiful individuals in local organizations like this who are passionate about art and want artists and makers to grow.”

Following her heart has allowed both avenues of her art business to expand, according to Kawar. She said she is still stepping further into her confidence, and as she does so, more opportunities arise.

“It’s pretty unique for an artist to work in multiple avenues, and both are giving to me in deep, profound ways,” Kawar said. “Fine art can be more challenging in the area, though working with others and curating my own shows is bringing more exposure. Much of that work does better in other locations around the country. Pure Ritual is absolutely thriving right here because it is more of a metaphysical community.”