Damian Grava- Friends of RCS


Damian Grava

I have spent much of my life enjoying the woods, waterways, and mountains of New England and the Pacific Northwest. I have always been inspired by the relationship between landscapes, their formation, and the unique ecosystems that emerge. Observing how these environments develop and the response of living organisms became a passion that continues to influence my art to this day. 

My fascination with the interaction between living things and their environment focused my studies into science and art.  In 1999 I earned my BS in Geology with a minor in art, specializing in ceramics, from Keene State College in New Hampshire.  My degree in Geology built a foundation for my artistic growth in ceramics.  I spent the past 16 years as a self-employed ceramic artist in Seattle exploring materials, firing processes, and the importance of artisan objects in today’s world. 

In 2000 I moved to Seattle to build my life as a potter.  I became a resident at Pottery Northwest and worked with Matt Patton as a studio assistant and thrower. My education and growth continued as I attended workshops and worked with artists at their studios and kilns. That 5-year residency/apprenticeship cultivated my desire to make pots that beckon us to weave them into the fabric of our daily rituals.

My family and I bought a house in West Seattle in 2013 where we have a studio and soda kiln. I continue to make vapor fired pots designed with the high resist flashing slips and quirky kiln loading techniques I developed at Pottery Northwest. My curiosity of how color, texture, and form exists in nature will continuously prompt exploration and discovery in my ceramic work. Outside of studio practice you will find me teaching classes, gardening, working on my house and property, and spending time with my wife and daughter.

Artist Statement
I am inspired by the awe I witness in nature. This is reflected in my pots through an energetic approach to material and process. During my studies in ceramics and geology I realized what inspires me is not clearly calculated or haphazard. The space between is where I find natural beauty and wonder.  I shape my pots on a slow turning wheel and alter rims, bodies, and feet to retain an energetic movement.  The surfaces are often dressed with textured slips for an added reflection of nature. When I load a soda fire or wood fire kiln the intricately packed pottery stacks create flow channels like boulders in a river. During the firing glaze laden flames weave in and out of the tumble stacked pottery leaving a painted record of the process and the objects relationships. I develop slips and clay bodies that unify the surface and the form in this vapor firing atmosphere. When I fire a kiln I am the conductor for a symphony of pots. 

Ceramic vessels were historically an element of daily living. Artisan craft became less necessary in the wake of the industrial revolution, but the need of those objects still exists. Making pots is a way for me to step back from the mechanical stride and connect with a rich history of makers. When I eat and drink as a daily ritual I desire a more meaningful experience than consumption out of necessity. Experiencing those moments with handmade pottery accomplishes this for me; it can be exciting, relaxing, curious, or transformative. The unspoken relationship between craftsman and user is exquisite, and can have a significant impact in our daily lives. I find the integration of artisan objects and nature into our lives is an innate part of being us.