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The Walter Gropius Master Artist Program Presents Maria Dondero

“I believe that to make friendly pots, they should be approachable, vulnerable, lovely, and they should speak from the heart of the maker, much like a true friend does. It is this simple connection that makes handmade work transcend the physical into the magical and spiritual realm, and what has kept me loving clay and sharing pottery with folks for multiple decades.” – Maria Dondero

START | December 16, 2023

END | March 31, 2024

Maria Dondero, Three Bowls, earthenware, slip, glaze, electric fired to cone 1. Dimensions: 7-9” wide by 2-3” tall. Image courtesy of the artist.


“Let's Make Friendly Pots"

The artist will speak about her work in a free public presentation on Thursday, February 8, 2024, at 7 p.m. Admission is free. Refreshments follow the presentation.

Dondero will contact a workshop at HMA from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Friday, February 9, through Sunday, February 11, 2024.

About the Workshop

In this workshop, the artist will share her love of clay and design with the students. Participants will start with loosely thrown and hand built forms, leaving many traces of the process to be revealed in the finished piece, and will work through to surface design or the decision to leave the surface open. All these moments and choices along the way create a unique voice that the artist will help the participants find through lively discussions, writing exercises, and brainstorming activities about style and surface decoration choices. Throughout the workshop there will be demonstrations on the wheel, as well as constructing coil, slab and pinch pots. Pots will be decorated with slip, using different surface techniques to build up layers of interest, as well as demonstrations of sgraffito including discussions of timing for varying line qualities and results. The artist will also teach about underglazes and stains, with an emphasis on brush and application styles. Additionally, the artist will discuss and demonstrate her glazing technique. 

About the Artist

Maria Dondero was born in Yaoundé, Cameroon, the youngest of five children, and moved to Atlanta, Georgia, with her family in 1983. After high school, she spent more than a year living and learning in Latin America. She attended her first pottery class while in Guanajuato, Mexico, and went on to study ceramics at the University of Georgia, where she earned a BFA (2005) and an MFA (2008). In 2009 she opened Marmalade Pottery, a studio and gallery in Athens, Georgia. Then, in 2016, she renovated a former industrial space and established Southern Star Studio, a vibrant community pottery studio and gallery. She has taught at universities and led workshops across the country. In 2023, she and three other women began an international cooperative ceramics studio in Cortona, Italy. She is represented by prominent galleries nationwide and her work has been featured in numerous exhibitions. “I love pots and am honored to make pieces that people bring into their lives. I love eating and am amazed at the way a delicious meal becomes an even more beautiful experience when served in a thoughtful, handmade dish. I love drinking tasty things and feel connected to the maker when I choose a particular cup. These daily rituals of creating beauty in experience have kept me interested in making pots for the last 20 years. I aim to create friendly pots that are warm, comfortable, loose, and vulnerable. Pieces that folks will enjoy having around. I connect to pottery for the long history of potters worldwide who have made art objects to be used in everyday life. I choose terracotta for the rich color and the likeness to Georgia Clay. I use a kaolin slip to add texture and a surface to draw back into. I respond to the form itself with imagery from my life and surroundings. I seek to balance the immediacy of quickly sketched drawings with the permanence of a piece of pottery that could be around long after I am."

This exhibit is presented with support from the City of Huntington Mayor’s Council for the Arts.

This exhibit is presented with support from The Isabelle Gwynn and Robert Daine Exhibition Endowment.

This program is presented with financial assistance from the West Virginia Department of Arts, Culture & History, and the National Endowment for the Arts, with approval from the West Virginia Commission on the Arts.

Header: Emil Carlsen (American, b. Denmark, 1853-1932), Detail of The Heavens Are Telling, ca. 1918. Oil on canvas. Gift of Ruth Woods Dayton, 1967.1.47. Photo by John Spurlock. This artwork is featured in The Daywood Collection: Paintings & Sculptures exhibit through February, 11, 2024.