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Donna Polseno

Biography to Display: 


1972 BFA Kansas City Art Institute, Kansas City, Missouri 

1974 MAT Rhode Island School of Design, Providence, Rhode Island 



1984 Artist in Residence, Archie Bray Foundation for the Ceramic Arts, Helena, Montana 

2002 International Ceramics Symposium, Dokuz Eylul University, Izmir, Turkey 



2004 – Instructor, Hollins University, Roanoke, Virginia 

2007-2016 Instructor, Summer Term, La Meridiana School of Ceramics, Certaldo, Italy 



Donna Polseno is known for mid-range electric fired figurative sculpture and pottery.  Figurative sculptures are hand built using an iron rich terracotta. Polsano's pottery is slip cast, altered and reassembled. Glazing practices include satin matte hues with stylized decorative motifs of flowers, leaves, birds or simple line work in designed combinations. Polsano uses a system of wax resists and liquid latex to build layers of glazes and decorative motifs.  

About her pottery, Polsano states, “I have made many different types of pottery over my career but have always been interested in the way decorative elements can be used to enhance a form, whether one is using an elaborate pattern or the simplest marks.” 1 

Polseno’s figurative sculptures are often constructed as singular stylized narrative female forms which have a sense of mass. Often the gesture of vessel in hand is used. Female figures often feature unglazed earth red clay as a prominent surface treatment, with glaze as an isolated decorative element. Also part of Polsano’s sculptural work is the careful assembly of her vessel related forms on a ceramic plinth. About her work Polseno states, “My interest is in portraying the essence of a woman; her capacity symbolically and in the flesh, to give life, to nurture, and exhibit both vulnerability, beauty and strength.” 2 

In addition to her personal creations, Polseno has been instrumental in developing the annual Women Working with Clay Symposium at Hollins University in Roanoke, Virginia, serving as the director for many years. A link to the symposium can be accessed here: February 5, 2019, 5:00PM. 

2 Ibid. 

Public Collections

Public Collections to Display: 

American Museum of Ceramic Art, Pomona, California

Kansas City Art Institute, Kansas City, Missouri 

Mint Museum, Charlotte, North Carolina 

Roanoke College, Roanoke, Virginia 

Rosenfield Collection

St. Louis Museum of Art, St, Louis, Missouri 

Taubman Museum of Art, Roanoke, Virginia 




Bibliography to Display: 


Fariello, Anna. “The Container as Metaphor: Figurative Works by Donna Polseno.” Ceramics Art and Perception 37 (Fall 1999).  

Higby, Wayne. “Potter’s Space & the Earthbound Goddess.” Ceramics Art and Perception .66 

Hluch, Kevin. “Pots with a View: The Work of Richard Hensley and Donna Polseno.” Ceramics Monthly (March 2005).  

_____________. The Art of American Contemporary Pottery. Iola, WI: Krause Publications, 2001.  

Hunt, Bill. 21st Century Ceramics in the United States & Canada. Westerville, OH: American Ceramics Society, 2003.  

Polseno, Donna. “Accepting Change.” Ceramics Monthly Vol. 28, no. 3 (March 1990).

________________ A Different Language.” Studio Potter 42, no.1 (2013).  

________________  “Following a Thread: Matte Glazes at Mid Range.” Ceramics Monthly (November 2015). 










Center for CraftCenter For Craft



AMOCA American Museum of Ceramic ArtAMOCA American Museum of Ceramic Art


Typical Marks
Date: 1978
Method: Thrown
Dimensions: 4.3 x 25.5 inches
Surface Technique: Glaze
American Museum of Ceramic Art, gift of The American Ceramic Society, 2004.2.289.ab
Photo: TMP
American Museum of Ceramic Art, gift of The American Ceramic Society, 2004.2.289.ab
Photo: TMP
Photo: TMP
Date: 2017
Surface Technique: Glaze
43rd Annual Sale, Old Church Art Center, Demarest, New Jersey
Photo: TMP
43rd Annual Sale, Old Church Art Center, Demarest, New Jersey
Photo: TMP
Materials: Earthenware
Method: Thrown and Altered
Surface Technique: Glaze, Incised
Cream and Sugar
Materials: Porcelain
Method: Cast
Surface Technique: Glaze
Large Bowl with Relief Pears
Materials: Porcelain
Method: Cast, Hand-Built
Surface Technique: Brushwork, Glaze, Stamped
Courtesy Treadway-Toomey Auctions
Courtesy Treadway-Toomey Auctions

Citation: Kuratnick, Jeffrey . "The Marks Project." Last modified April 7, 2023.