Chook and Rocco clay sculpture by Donna Ray

MIDB Artwork Spotlight: Original Ceramic Pieces

Ceramic artist Donna Ray's experience with art started with playdough.

"As a child I enjoyed making structures out of the colorful, salted clay for orientational purposes," she says. "My father would draw for me when I was young, when he was still alive. He drew people, small animals and birds. Then he would give me playdough to build everything he drew." 

Today, three of Ray's pieces are now part of MIDB's art collection:

  • Chook and Rocco (pictured above): This piece depicts Chook the garden rooster meets Rocco the baby raccoon.
  • Krampus: This stoneware clay with iron/soda fired over depicts Krampus goat as a baby with a playful eye shut, wink and tongue wagging. He is holding a basket to collect holiday goodies. His head sits on a jar to hold cookies and treats.
  • Blue Lefty Guitar: Donated by Ray to the Art for All: Evelo Permanent Collection and on loan at MIDB. This framed stoneware piece pays respect to Jimmie Hendrix.
Original ceramic artwork by Donna Ray
Krampus (left) and Blue Lefty Guitar

Working with every type of clay body to produce one of a kind art, Ray describes her style as "adding lots of textures to objects that are both functional and sculptural."

"I've been involved in art all my life. Pottery and ceramics is a therapy thing for me, I've been doing it in the Twin Cities for over 24 years," said Ray, who is a visually impaired artist who only sees black, white, and gray.

Ray says that clay, in any form, has offered a therapeutic and soothing outlet for her entire life.

"As a severely sight-impaired artist, clay has added a sense of purpose and balance to my entire world," she said.  

In 2021, the Institute on Community Integration's Art for All program featured Ray in a solo exhibition, “Black and White with a Touch of Color.” 

She's been a Resident Studio Artist at Northern Clay Center since 2020. She was one of 16 artists selected to design and paint a letter for the Minneapolis Black Lives Matter mural-she designed and painted the letter "I" for the mural, which is now archived into history along with the other 250 murals painted that year around the world. Ray received her community education in clay at Artistry located in west Bloomington, Minn. 

Hear more from Ray

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