Success Stories

Bare finds voice with ceramics

Daniel Bare

Even though he grew up around art, Daniel Bare did not want to be an artist. Fearing he would live in his art teacher father’s shadow, Bare began looking for a more practical career. But instead of teaching, engineering or starting a business, Bare found himself falling in love with art.

Working in China, he found a perfect medium for his art. After graduate school in New York, Bare was the first American to complete an Artist-in-Residency program at the Pottery Workshop Shanghai. With more than 60 percent of ceramics produced in China, simple mugs are made for less than pennies and then shipped overseas where they are sold for a great deal more. These objects, which usually end up in landfills, were the inspiration for Bare’s latest project: Re/Claim.

“My experience in Shanghai led me to think about a product’s inception, production, and disposal,” said Bare. “I enjoy working with objects that are on their way to the landfill to draw attention to the fact that they can be repurposed.”

In order to create his pieces, Bare collects cups, mugs, plates, and other small figures from his local Goodwill. The objects are placed in a protective bowl, called a Saggar, and fired with thick, viscous glaze, which allows the objects to adhere to each other in layers. Each piece is usually fired three or more times, each firing taking about four days, a process that can take up to one month to complete.

“It is challenging to take something ordinary and make it prominent and compelling in the piece,” said Bare.  “This approach allows me to show how hidden our respect is towards the environment.”

Bare earned a bachelor’s degree in art education and crafts at the University of Arts in Philadelphia. He then attended the New York State College of Ceramics at Alfred University, one of the top programs for ceramics in the country, and earned a master’s of fine art degree in ceramic art.

Bare continues to create his pieces across the U.S and China, and locally he has displayed his work at Active Site and in Grand Valley’s buildings. While his work is gaining recognition, Bare said he would like to push his gallery presence more and continue to experiment with his work.

“I follow traditional techniques of ceramics, push the boundaries of function by encouraging people to really think about the piece,” Bare said.

Bare said he enjoys his time working, teaching, and sharing his experiences at Grand Valley. As a ceramics instructor, Bare has the opportunity to work and maintain his studio practice.

“Education in the arts allows students to realize what is important to them. I enjoy working through creative problem solving when they struggle between their thoughts and a project, because that is what artists do,” said Bare. “Grand Valley helps me to share this process with students.”

For more information about Bare’s work, visit

by Heather DeWitt

This story was filed with the tags: Arts, First-Rate Faculty