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Everson Museum of Art Announces The Power of Pattern Exhibition of New Work by David MacDonald

The Everson Museum of Art presents The Power of Pattern: New Work by David MacDonald on view June 25, 2011 – September 18, 2011.

For more than four decades, David MacDonald has masterfully created richly patterned utilitarian objects from clay that have come to symbolize tremendous integrity and endurance. Despite the nation recognition MacDonald has earned for his superb work, he remains committed to, and most content when he is producing functional works of art in beautiful forms that will be touched, held, and most importantly used by people who will admire and appreciate their inherent beauty. This exhibition highlights the artist’s vision of functional beauty through an extraordinary body of work–a labor of love–produced in the past year.

David MacDonald, Divination Plate #2, 2004-2007 Stoneware, 16 x 26 (diameter) in. Courtesy of the artist. Photography by David Revette Photography

Early in his artistic career, David MacDonald turned to his African heritage for inspiration in his work. Although he is currently exploring other sources of inspiration such as traditional quilt patterns and the intricate pattern designs produced by European cultures, the many examples of surface pattern and decoration found in textiles, utilitarian objects, body ornament and architecture present among the diverse ethnic groups of sub-Sahara Africa continue to inform MacDonald’s work on many levels. He utilizes a combing technique with strong ties to the Nigerian tradition to create intricate pattern designs on the surfaces of vessels and plate forms. Combing involves wetting a custom-made comb across the surface of the clay to create parallel furrows. The monumental plate in the Everson’s collection is an excellent example of this technique and characteristic of MacDonald’s work. Plate (1984) is a large, deeply carved, footed stoneware form almost 28 inches in diameter. The carved imagery on the surface is a geometric design dominated by a six-pointed star with semi-circles joining each point. A circular pattern fills the center circumscribed by a larger ring.

David MacDonald is recognized nationally not only for his dedication to outstanding craftsmanship in clay but for his commitment as a mentor and teacher to a generation of aspiring artists and students. In April, 2011 he was honored with the Excellence in Teaching Award from the National Council on Education in the Ceramic Arts (NCECA) at the annual convention in Tampa, Florida. NCECA is the largest ceramic arts organization in the world and the Excellence in Teaching Award is one of their highest honors. He was the recipient of the Everson Museum Medal in 2008, an honor bestowed on those who have made a marked difference on the local arts and culture community. Although David MacDonald has been active at the Everson for decades as a member of the Collections Committee as well as a panelist for the 2000 Ceramic National Exhibition, this is his first solo exhibition at the Museum. He is currently Professor Emeritus in the Ceramics Program at Syracuse University’s School of Art and Design where he taught for 37 years. Recently retired from teaching full-time, he was eager to get back in the studio and focus on making new work for this exhibition, one of which will be added to the Everson’s permanent collection, made possible with funds donated by the Social Arts Club and the Howard Kottler Testamentary Trust.

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