Maria Dondero has lived in Athens, GA for 18 years now and considers it her home. Born in Yaoundé Cameroon, the youngest of five children, her large family and travel has influenced her work greatly. A love of eating delicious food and an appreciation for how the presentation of that food adds to the experience lead her to pottery. She took her first class while living in Guanajuato, Mexico in 2000, fell in love and has been making pots and teaching ever since. Following in her family’s footsteps, Dondero continued to study and work abroad, being particularly influenced by terracotta in Italy and slipware in Japan.
In May 2008, she completed her MFA at the University of Georgia. After teaching adjunct Ceramics for a year, in September 2009, she opened up a studio/gallery in Athens and started making work with the name Marmalade Pottery. In January 2016, she renovated an old heating & air manufacturer into a larger studio and gallery. With the name Southern Star Studio, she rents spaces out to many local ceramicists. The studio provides space for a vibrant community of artists and a gallery to present their work. Dondero’s pots are represented in galleries all over the country, and she participates in many invitational and juried shows and online sales. She has taught at Universities and workshops throughout the South East.
In January 2012, she gave birth to twin boys and now splits her time between pottery, teaching and them. The characters she draws on her pots now tend to show up in twos… Her work focuses on functional pottery whose aesthetics draw on the age old and worldwide history of ceramics. While subtly referencing pottery traditions from around the world, Maria intuitively sketches images from her surroundings, grounding her work in the Georgia soil.