—Artwork: 'The Electricity of Life'
by Joan Arrizabalaga
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Joan Arrizabalaga has spent much of her artistic career exploring gaming and casino environments and the machines and devices associated with them. As a child in Fallon, Nevada, she developed an early fascination with pieces and parts of machinery and tools, going to the local dump with her father and Uncle Louis to get rid of “stuff.” Much to her mother’s dismay, she would find more “stuff” to haul back. It was in a UNR ceramics class in the 1960s that Arrizabalaga had her first epiphany about making a slot machine of clay, which led to a series of ceramic slots machines, and later, fabric slot machines, and later still, tapestry murals of gaming scenes based on the works of old masters. Some of her most well-known pieces use gaming felt to create “big game” trophies. She was born in East Ely, Nevada, raised in Fallon, Nevada, and attended the University of Nevada, Reno. After receiving a B.A. in Ceramics and Sculpture in 1962, she studied with Marguerite Wildenhain at Pond Farm Pottery in Guerneville, California. She lived in London, England for a few years. Arrizabalaga has worked in many media including wood, clay, metal, and fabric. She had a long career as wardrobe mistress at Harrah’s. She has been featured in articles and reviews published in Nevada Magazine, Fiberarts, and Silver and Blue and her work can be found in many local and national collections.