Maria Dondero: New Work

Sep 4th - Sep 27th, 2009

Maria Dondero was born in Yaounde Cameroon and moved to Atlanta, GA in 1983 where she spent her formative years. In between High School and college at the University of Georgia, Maria spent over a year in Latin America. There she took her first classes in ceramics, studying wheel throwing with an old accomplished potter in Guanajuato, Mexico. This cross-cultural exploration influenced her choices of majors in college- Ceramics and Spanish. Following in her family’s footsteps, Maria continued to study and work abroad, being particularly influenced by Terracotta works in Italy and slipware in Japan. In May 2008, she completed her MFA at the University of Georgia. She now lives and works in Athens, teaching and making pots. Her work focuses on functional pottery whose aesthetics draw on the age old and worldwide history of ceramics. While subtly referencing pottery traditions from around the world, Maria intuitively sketches images from her surroundings, grounding her work in the Georgia soil.

Dondero's work aligns itself within the traditions of European earthenware and Indigenous potters of the Americas, primarily the work of village potters creating pieces for a local market. Her work, made from an earthenware clay body, is freely and loosely thrown and is surfaced with fresh, personal decorative motifs. Through the use of a terra cotta body, Dondero has a dark base to build on. She loosely covers this ground with a white slip, sometimes working a small pattern into the surface here and there. She then carves into the surface, drawing from her visual vocabulary, which includes but is not limited to a variety of plants, insects and objects. Dondero uses a limited glaze palette accentuating her drawings primarily with bursts of turquoise blue, green and yellow.

In speaking about her work, Dondero states, "Making pots is something that I can’t imagine my life without. I find ceramics a thoughtful and fulfilling process from the slow, labor-intensive mixing of clay and glazes, to kick wheel turning of the shapes, to trimming, slipping, sketching, bisquing, glazing, and firing again. I leave traces of the process through which my pots were made, whether by the attachment of the handle, or the fingerprints left from dipping vessels in slip. I seek to balance immediacy and permanence when etching a quick drawing into the clay."

"Connecting fruits, flowers and people around me, I create these playful images in response to the form and surface of the piece itself. I want my work to show a conscious process, an alternative to lifeless mold-made pottery that is so prevalent at a cost hardly reflecting the steps involved. Picking up a handmade cup reveals its weight, its surface, its edge, and the fit of the handle. Then bringing this object to lips is even more intimate, such that sipping from a unique cup becomes a connection to the maker. I myself connect to pottery for the rich, long history of potters who have made beautiful objects to be used in everyday life. "