Were you always creative and what was your earliest creation?
Yes! When I was young, my father had his workshop in the basement of our late 19th century home. I was fascinated with the lidded jars hanging from the ceiling joists that contained nails and screws. Knowing I shouldn’t use power tools without supervision (I was probably around 10 years old), I found a ratchet bit brace (manual drill) to drill consecutive holes in the middle of a piece of wood. I slid another piece of wood through the long set of connected holes to create wings for an airplane. My father was a small aircraft pilot, and I wanted to make him an airplane. To this day, the airplane is the first ornament he hangs on his Christmas tree. I also learned the basics of pottery-making and jewelry enameling in elementary school art class, which I took a liking to immediately.
At what point did you say, “I’m an artist”?
Not until I was an art student at Georgia Southern University when I was in my mid-30’s.
What is your specialty?
I am a ceramic artist. My current body of work focuses on wild animals (many of them endangered) and incorporates wheel-thrown urns with sculpted animal lids that express the beauty yet vulnerability of nature. The urns are first bisque fired in an electric kiln. When cooled, I wrap the forms in newspaper or foil along with ingredients such as salt, hay, copper wire, steel wire, copper sulfate, iron oxide, coffee grounds, tea bags, and banana peels, or, they are simply left unwrapped. I then fire them in a pit or barrel with sawdust, dried wood, twigs, and newspaper. Each form is unique due to the unpredictability of this atmospheric firing. The colors on the pots vary from brown, black, red, orange, and yellow, evoking a sense of earthiness and antiquity.
What is your favorite piece (of your own) and why?
I do not have a favorite piece, but my favorite body of work is my wild animal urn series because it is unique, and it shows viewers the beauty of animals. In order to sculpt an animal, I study several photos of each animal and learn a little about their habits. Seeing the form evolve is very rewarding.
Do you have your own studio space? Home or elsewhere? Is it open to public?
Yes, I do. My studio is in my barn loft. It has a working space, a gallery space, and a bathroom. My electric kiln is on the first floor of the barn. My studio is only open to the public on occasions such as the annual World’s Greatest Studio Tour.
Do you exhibit your work? If so, where?
I exhibit my work in local art shows such as the Artworks Members Juried Exhibition, the US Bank Celebration of the Arts Exhibition, the Baker/Lunt Memorial Art Exhibition, the Bowling Green Gallery Hop, and the World’s Greatest Studio Tour. I also had a solo exhibition at the Downing Museum in 2018.
What inspires you, in general?
Nature: trees, plants, animals, water, rocks, a beautiful sunrise and sunset.
And, the following quote inspires me to continue creating sculptural endangered species to bring awareness to what our world would be without them.
If all the beasts were gone, man would die from a great loneliness of spirit, for whatever happens to the beasts also happens to the man. All things are connected. – Chief Seattle
If you could be an artist anywhere in the world, where would it be and why?
Somewhere in the woods with trees, hills, a pond, river, or small lake, lots of birds and wild animals. I grew up in a small town in the foothills of the Catskills in upstate New York, so being surrounded by nature and enjoying the outdoors is a part of me. I do love my home in Bowling Green because it is surrounded by nature.
What is your dream for the future?
Honestly, my big dream is world peace. My personal dream is good health and the ability to enjoy time with my family, friends, and nature.
Who is your favorite artist?
Claude Monet for his beautiful landscape paintings.
What piece are you currently working on?
None as I write this, but I have an idea for another series that incorporates metals, beads, stones, and wood in clay forms.
For more information on my artwork, please check out my website at donnaschulte.com.