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Getting Footing in the Athens Art Scene

Nestled in the heart of Athens, Georgia, Maria Dondero's Southern Star Studio stands as a cherished place, where the art of pottery meets community. Maria's journey into pottery started as just a passion for the clay that turned into owning, running, and selling pottery with a collective of other artists out of the studio. 

Born in West Africa, Maria's early years were shaped by her father's work with the Centers for Disease Control, leading her family to settle in Atlanta. It was during her undergraduate years at the University of Georgia that Maria found her true calling in ceramics.

"I initially leaned towards a career in public health, inspired by my father," Dondero reflects. "But a pottery class in Mexico ignited a passion within me that changed that."Maria Dondero working on piece

After completing a double major in ceramics and Spanish, Maria pursued her MFA in ceramics at UGA, solidifying her dedication to the art form. Since graduating, Maria has been a cornerstone of Athens' vibrant arts community, navigating through various studio spaces before establishing Southern Star Studio in 2015.

Community Through Love of the Craft

"Southern Star Studio isn't just a workspace; it's a collaborative sanctuary," Maria explains. "We're home to a diverse collective of artists who inspire and challenge each other every day."

The studio's essence of creativity and community is evident in the range of styles and techniques embraced by its members, reflected in the diverse pottery.

Maria's pottery embodies a connection to nature and a celebration of everyday beauty.

"Athens has been an endless well of inspiration," Dondero shares.

Despite the evolving landscape of Athens, Maria remains in the community bringing artistic voice to the city.

Engaging with Pottery First Hand

At Southern Star Studio, visitors are invited to experience pottery firsthand every Saturday from 10 AM to 4 PM.

"We encourage visitors to engage with our artists, explore our pottery, and discover pieces that resonate with them," Dondero says. "There's a story behind every piece.”

For those unable to visit in person, Southern Star Studio offers an online gallery showcasing the latest creations.

"Our online platform allows us to connect with pottery enthusiasts online," Maria explains. "It's a way to share beyond Athens and bring handmade into spaces everywhere."

Maria Dondero's artworkPottery for the Athens Community

As Maria looks ahead, she remains committed to building Southern Star Studio as a hub of artistic.            expression and community engagement. 

Whether you're a seasoned collector or new to the world of pottery, Maria Dondero invites you to explore.    Southern Star Studios. Visit them in Athens or browse their collection online at their website