Dan Schmitt

I was born in 1973 in Washington State to German parents. Two weeks after my brother was born, in 1975, we moved back to Germany for several years. My parents moved back to the States several years later to settle in the Pacific Northwest where I spent the rest my childhood. Growing up my family took yearly trips back to Europe to visit family and having this bicultural upbringing has greatly influenced my personal aesthetic.
I’ve been working in ceramics since I discovered it in college in 1993. I started college as a biology major and three weeks after my first ceramics class, my freshman year, switched my major to art. Since then, ceramics has been a part of my life and has led me to exciting discoveries, far away lands, and reflected different stages in my life thus far.

In 1996 I earned a BA in fine art from the University of Puget Sound and in 1998 I finished my MFA in ceramics at Kent State University. After graduate school I moved to Eugene, Oregon, where I set up my studio practice. From 1999 to 2007 I produced a line of porcelain tableware that gained national recognition including being collected by the Smithsonian’s Renwick Gallery and being placed on permanent display at the Smithsonian’s American Art Museum.

In addition to my studio practice I have taught at the University of Oregon and am currently an instructor at Lane Community College in Eugene, Oregon.

At this point in my life I have been making pots for nearly twenty years or about half of my life. Even though at times I have deviated from functional objects, I continually come back to this format for much of my studio practice. Often viewed as a humble art, pottery continues to be part of the furniture of our lives and offers a level of engagement that is extremely intimate and personal, and I enjoy knowing that my work will make its way into people’s daily lives. The making of pottery engages many points of discussion ranging from issues around sustainability, the role of designer and maker in society, the value of objects and psychological relationships we have to products, and the intimacy and memories we form around artifacts.

While pottery is the primary format I work in, I work in several different clays, temperature ranges, and fire in a variety of kilns. The majority of my work is based around utility and function, though the degree of interpretation of these constraints can vary depending on my intent and design objective. Being a maker of individualized objects allows me to easily dance this line from artist to product designer. Part of my objective is re-framing the ordinary to make it extraordinary.