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David MacDonald

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David MacDonald – guest artist

A native of New Jersey, Professor David MacDonald received his Bachelor of Arts degree (in Art Education) from Hampton University, where he studied under the noted African American ceramic artist Joseph Gilliard. He earned his Master of Fine Arts degree from the University of Michigan, where he studied under noted African American ceramic artist Robert Stull.   


After receiving his Master of Fine Arts degree, he joined the faculty of the School of Art and Design at Syracuse University.


Professor MacDonald’s creative work is mostly inspired by his investigation of his African heritage. Looking at a variety of design sources in the vast creative traditions of the African continent; Professor MacDonald draws much of his inspiration from the myriad examples of surface decoration that are manifested in the many ethnic groups of sub-Saharan Africa (such as pottery decoration, textiles, body decoration and architectural decoration).

Professor 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; and he has been featured in several nationally televised TV programs such as HGTV's Modern Masters and PBS's Craftsmen's Legacy.  After retiring from Syracuse University in 2008, he was awarded Emeritus Professor status; and in 2011 he was given the Excellent in Teaching Award from The National Conference for Education in the Ceramic Arts. Since his retirement, he has been active lecturing across the country and working in his studio.   


The essence of the art experience, for me, has been one of self-discovery and communication. In one sense, it is a very private and personal journey in search of order, reason, and beauty. Yet, in another sense, it is a very public act; an 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 these expressions is the vessel.


The vessel embodies unique social and spiritual connections and associations, to all people; which does not necessarily exist in

“non-vessel” ceramic forms. There exists in the vessel a timelessness and universality that records, contains and perpetuates the very essence of humanity and the human experience.

Syracuse, New York

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MacDonald-Stoneware Carved Bowl #2 2017
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