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Dante Gambardella

Resident Artist - Past

I am deeply interested in how my creative practice is influenced by my surroundings and how humankind is impacting the environment. Deliberately limiting my use of mined materials, I highlight the importance of having a sustainable art practice. While digging for new clays, I harness the potential of geologic impurities that my medium inherently possesses. The basis of my artistic dialogue involves engagement with the natural characteristics of my materials and experimentations with color and form.

I utilize local materials to initiate conversations about environmental issues through the creation of functional and sculptural ceramic works. My functional vessels portray scenes, such as wildfire-fighting helicopters, swimming fish, and lush landscapes — all being drastically altered by extreme kiln atmospheres. The subject matter of my functional pieces is tied directly to the precious resources they carry. Their forms are also rooted in medieval European shapes and reference motifs and ideologies found in the Japanese and Korean wood fire traditions.

My sculptural works create compelling, yet familiar, illusions and surfaces. Formally, they explore in ways that the constraints of functionality will not allow. Their surfaces are simple and reflect refined atmospheric qualities that, in turn, emphasize the importance of form and play. It follows that experimentation is at the core of my practice — as I embrace the ceramic histories of different cultures and dig for new clays.


I grew up in the Bay Area and found ceramics when I moved to Bozeman, MT. While studying at Montana State University I became very interested in wood firing and using local materials — techniques ceramicists have been using for thousands of years. I find great value in learning from the traditions of different cultures, an interest that has led me to study ceramics in Brazil, Italy, and Japan. To me the world of clay is about engaging with my community, contributing to a network of shared knowledge, and challenging myself as an artist.