Michael Vangstad


During his time in university, Michael Vangstad stumbled into the world of pottery almost by accident. He was born and raised in Ham Lake, Minnesota, and pursued degrees in history and social studies education at Bethel University in St. Paul. Needing to fulfill an art elective, Ceramics 101 seemed like as good a choice as any, and so his foray into pottery began. Due in equal parts to the surrounding influences of his teacher Kirk Freeman and his ceramics peers, Michael developed a passion for clay and quickly discovered he had been missing out on the Midwest U.S. pottery scene in which he grew up. Since then, Michael has pursued pottery as an art form, a hobby, and a job. He primarily works with stoneware clays and attempts to create pottery that is functionally sound, interesting to behold, and with enough depth to allow fresh discoveries upon each use. Due to this, much of his completed work is finished in light slips and clear glazes to allow the character of the clay hidden underneath to shine through.



My Pottery


When I sit at the wheel to throw pottery, I always start from the same place. I have set before me a bag of clay and some vague ideas of what I want that clay to look like once shaped and eventually fired. In between those moments is a cascade of thoughtfulness, experimentation, repetition, oftentimes doubt, many accidents, a strong sense of vulnerability, and, when all goes well, creative expression. My pottery is designed to be functional; each piece is meant to be touched and experienced. At the same time, my work is not strictly utilitarian. The conversation a pot sparks about where it stands in the crossroads of form and function is one of my favorite aspects of this craft. To that end, I attempt to produce pots that are interesting, engaging, and inviting in how they look and feel.

While intention guides my practice, the minor alterations and tiny imperfections of making something by hand are what breathe life into my pottery. Ultimately, it is my hope that each pot I create will encourage its user to slow down and take notice of new details and characteristics hidden within, and in that discovery find a deeper appreciation for the use of a simple, everyday object.