November 28, 2013 in Washington Voices

The Verve: Donna Kulibert makes functional pottery that creates connections

Jennifer Larue
 
Tyler Tjomsland photoBuy this photo

Donna Kulibert poses for a photo on Nov. 19, at her home studio in Medical Lake.
(Full-size photo)

On the Web

• Find a link to a brochure and map for the Slightly West of Spokane Artists Tour at www.cityofcheney.org. • Find Donna Kulibert on Facebook by searching for Common Ground Pottery. There’s a brochure for the artists tour there, too.

Art quote of the week

“Try to put thought, time and care into making these useful objects with the hopes that the users will somehow

connect with them beyond their intended purpose.”

Jennifer Harnetty, potter and editor of Ceramic Arts Daily

Donna Kulibert hopes that her chosen form of art might serve as an aid for others to live in the moment, if only for a moment.

Her work is functional, and she is driven by the knowledge that, as someone holds one of her ceramic mugs, there is a sort of connection being made.

“My pieces are meant to be used and enjoyed, and to perhaps bring awareness to the person that purchased or received it,” she said. “Whether they’re caressing the rough surfaces of a carved mug or smiling as they drink their coffee from their favorite cat mug, that moment allows them to focus inward, if only for a brief moment, and have an appreciation for what’s around them.”

Kulibert grew up in Wisconsin. When asked if she made art in high school, she snickered. “All they supplied were crayons,” she said.

She was studying science and nursing at the University of Wisconsin when she slowly gravitated toward art classes such as jewelry design, drawing and photography. Before earning a degree, she moved to Eastern Washington with her husband after he joined the Air Force. They settled in Medical Lake and she returned to college to complete her studies, earning a bachelor’s degree in studio art from Eastern Washington University and a second degree in art education.

At EWU, she was introduced to clay. “The experience of working with clay was both meditative and inspirational for me,” she said. “It was like coming home.”

In 1980, her husband built her a 30-cubic-foot kiln and later, a 1,200-square-foot studio where she spends much of her time with the company of cats. Starting at the wheel, Kulibert forms mugs and other vessels and then hand carves or paints them.

From whimsical cats to earth inspired designs including trees, leaves and feathers, her work represents the things she loves as well as her dedication.

“Pottery making requires commitment, discipline and dedication verging on obsession. I decided a long time ago that pottery making is my life work. I want my pots to flow into the long history of pottery,” she said.

Kulibert has taught pottery at city recreation programs, public schools, the Spokane Art School and at EWU. Over the years, she has participated in as many as 18 art festivals a year and shown in area galleries.

For the past 30 years, she has been a member of Pottery Place Plus in downtown Spokane and has begun showing her pieces at Manic Moon and More, 1007 W. Augusta Ave. She is also a founding member of the Slightly West of Spokane Artist Studio Tour which is 10 a.m.-7 p.m. Sunday. Find a link to a brochure and map for the Slightly West of Spokane Artists Tour at www.cityofcheney.org.

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