My work has evolved over the years to include both practical ware for daily use, as well as more sculptural works of ceramic art. In the past, I focused on wholesale production of high-fire porcelain dinnerware in a variety of dynamic, colorful glaze finishes. I still produce dinnerware, vases, and a variety of utilitarian vessels inspired by classical forms. Lately, I’ve been exploring more abstract experiments with pure form, creating stoneware wall tiles which I decorate with various slips, engobes, and carved lines. The beauty of these tiles lies in the inherent drama and dynamism of color, line, and silhouette.
Dan Vito has been working with clay for over 40 years. As the owner and co-founder (with his wife Donna) of Fireborn Studios in Pittsburgh’s Southside, Dan has had a long, successful career as a production potter and ceramic artist. Inspired by the forms and glazes of classical antiquity, Dan’s porcelain work embodies the beauty of museum-quality craftsmanship with a focus on every-day use and utility. His pieces span a range of form and function, including production-level dinner and kitchen ware; one-of-a-kind vases, jars, and ceremonial vessels; abstract wall-hanging tiles and chargers; and many other unique pieces, both practical and purely aesthetic.
Dan works primarily on the potters’ wheel, throwing carefully proportioned pieces and frequently altering them with an array of tools and techniques. His forms are characterized by a sense of elegance and fluidity, often accentuated by free-form surface decorations and finished in a wide variety of high-fire glazes, which he formulates and mixes himself. In addition to wheel-thrown pieces, he also works with slabs and molds to produce trays, platters, and wall-hanging pieces.
In the autumn of 2019, Dan spent six weeks attending the Pottery Workshop in Jingdezhen, China. While there, he studied the arts of mold making, brush making, and traditional Chinese wheel throwing techniques. He brought back with him a set of molds which he now uses to slip-cast various forms, both functional and sculptural.
Recently, Dan has been experimenting with low-fire stoneware to create a series of wall-hanging pieces, which explore “pure form” by focusing on the two-dimensional silhouette, accentuated by splashes of colored slips and curvilinear carvings. These pieces are an evolution of Dan’s life-long fascination with classical form, and demonstrate his more theoretical and philosophical approaches to working with clay. By bridging the gap between two and three-dimensionality, these pieces embody the limitless potential of clay to express form, occupy space, and engage the viewer as both aesthetic object and archetype of utility.
Dan is the former president of the Craftsmen’s Guild of Pittsburgh, and a member of both the Associated Artists of Pittsburgh and the Pittsburgh Society of Artists.