Artist Spotlight: Donna Ray, BISQUE Resident

BISQUE stands for Believe, Include, Sustain, Question, Understand, and Evolve. BISQUE is also a metaphor for makers in the early stages of development. NCC is proud of this new experimental residency program inspired by our desire to cultivate new voices in the field. As a community-based ceramic art center, NCC is in a unique position to have access to pre-emergent talent and invited Donna Ray to be the first BISQUE Resident Artist. Ray has been exhibiting around the Twin Cities since 2010 and taking classes at the Bloomington Art Center since 2001. A 2019 recipient of a POCI Scholarship to attend the NCECA Conference, Ray commented, “Networking and meeting other emerging artists…at the NCECA conference helped me realize how much I would benefit from more education in my studio building practices.” 

NCC: You’ve been in residence at NCC for a month now, how are you settling to the studio artist community? Would you share how the residency is matching up with your anticipated expectations so far?
DR: I am settling in great with the residency. I’ve been able to orient myself around the clay studios and met many people in the other residency programs such as MN NICE and McKnight. Kate Maury has helped me make a humidor. Studio mate Chris Salas and I have had multiple conversations about slip and mold building. We share our studio tools. I am working with MN NICE artist Riley to use the slab roller and extruder. I have been able to attend a SPOT night meeting, which was great. I am making new artist friends. 

The expectations are being matched by being able to attend the workshops, gallery openings, gain education about the kiln firing process, and the mentor relationships. I have met up with one of my four chosen mentors, Anna Metcalfe, who spoke candidly about my projects and critiqued a few of my BISQUE items. 

NCC: What are you working on in your studio to kick off your year at NCC? 
DR: Now I am working on baskets, oval wall cameos, and other items related to the theme of home. 

My artist cameos are social justice driven about situations concerning home. Interpretations about the geographical home circumstances. I have four home themes. The first one is about the rain forest... the destruction and burning of the forest. All cameos are will be connected by sub themes: people (indigenous, slave, foreign migration) assimilation, natural resources (food, clothing) and shelter. 

NCC: What is your main goal for your residency at NCC? 
DR: Becoming, a well-rounded emerging artist. Stepping out of my comfort zone and learning how to organize myself as an artist. I need to learn how to explore more artist adventures. Applying myself to other artist opportunities.

NCC: What event are you most looking forward to this year?
DR: This year the 2019 Holiday Exhibition and 2020 NCECA.