When Donna told me on the phone that she did her work in the basement, she meant basement, not the sheet-rocked, painted and decorated, dehumidified and air conditioned spaces of current construction styles, but the subterranean, musty, dirt- around-the-sides, low-ceilinged spaces intended in the 1920‘s for housing the coal-burning furnace and for storing old things you’d never use and which the family would divide up after you went to heaven. But out of this warren of nooks and corners, shadow and light, come the panoply of shapes and characters, colors and finishes that she combines in ever fresh ways to produce her wonderful work. Before I shoot, Donna flits about from spot to spot, describing a mind-boggling list of choices she makes on every piece as to which glazes, underglazes, stains, slips, pigments, and shapes she uses, often mixing several in brand new combinations, just to see what will happen. She’s aided by an olio of presses, flat and concave surfaces (the center of an old car tire forms some of her platters), and kilns (a potter fires the clay in a variety of ways to achieve a variety of results. Who knew?
Donna gives new meaning to the term “free form” artist. A dancer most of her life before dedicating her time to her pottery, that spirit still shapes her art, her mannerisms, her life. Her favorite all time piece is the Alice in Wonderland carrousel that won the Tennessee Arts & Crafts Bi-Annual Competition. When you look at it, you’re looking at Donna Rizzo.
From the artist: “Everything’s gotta move. All my stuff moves. Zoom, zoom, zoom!”