Gallery Exhibit: David MacDonald, Vessels Ceremonial and Mundane


Gallery at the Ann Felton Multicultural Center
Mon., March 4 - Tues., April 16
Monday - Friday: 9 a.m. - 4 p.m. 
Artist Reception: Wed., March 6, 11 a.m. - noon and 6 - 8 p.m. 

Artist Statement

David MacDonald received his undergraduate degree from Hampton University and while there, he was greatly inspired by noted African American ceramic artist Joseph W. Gilliard.

During his studies at Hampton, MacDonald became influenced by the political and social issues of the time (the Civil Rights movement). After graduating, he was awarded a graduate fellowship at the University of Michigan where he studied with John Stephenson and noted African American ceramist Robert Stull. During this time, his work continued to focus on social/political commentary and expand technically.

After receiving his Master of Fine Arts degree, MacDonald joined the faculty of the School of Art and Design at Syracuse University. During the late 1970’s and early 1980’s, his creative work received most of its creative inspiration from his investigation of his African heritage. Looking at a variety of design sources in the vast creative traditions of the African continent; Mac Donald draws much of his inspiration from the myriad examples of surface decoration that is manifested in the many ethnic groups of sub-Saharan Africa (such as pottery decoration, textiles, body decoration and architectural decoration).

In recent years he has began to research the rich decorative possibilities of patterns created in the world of quilts and also in "tessellated patterns" as represented in the arts of Islamic cultures. MacDonald’s work spans the complete spectrum of utilitarian ceramic forms; and he says the following about his creative efforts:

“The nature of the art experience for me is one of self-discovery and communication. In one sense, it is a very private and personal journey in search of order, reason, reality and beauty. In yet another sense, it is a very public act in the attempt to express and share, with others, my realizations and discoveries.”

“The principal concern of my art is the articulation of the magnificence and nobility of the human spirit; and a celebration of my African heritage. The material I use is clay. The primary vehicle for expressions the vessel.”

“In my view, the vessel represents unique social and spiritual connections and associations, to all people, that do not exist in non- vessel ceramic forms. There exists in the vessel a timelessness and universality that records, contains and continues the very essence of humanity.”

MacDonald’s work is represented in many public and private collections throughout the nation. His work has also been featured in several ceramic textbooks and magazines. He is very active presenting lectures and demonstrations throughout the U.S. In May 2008 MacDonald retired from Syracuse University after 36 years of teaching and service and was awarded Emeritus Professor rank. He is now very active presenting lectures and demonstrations throughout the U.S.