About Dan Bassett Art
I am a largely self-taught artist. In my work as a ceramic sculptor, I find much of my inspiration by thinking as a cartoonist. I balance preserving an attractive form with capturing a moment that is humorous or uncomfortable. I create my sculptures so, while the idea is clear, there is room for the inevitable range of perceptions among the viewers.
All of my work begins as ceramic stoneware. I create components by throwing, hand-building and by using layered molds that can be manipulated to change shape. I assemble the main structure, add sculptural components, fire the clay, then finish with glazes, stains and sometimes paints. While some of my work is nonfunctional, many of my pieces become planters, jars or lamps that incorporate recycled parts.
Born in Madison, Wisconsin, an artsy, free-thinking community, Bassett spent much of his youth overseas with his mother. She did humanitarian work in villages of northern Thailand. He attended Thai schools where he learned to speak and write Thai during a wonderfully rewarding childhood. He had many adventures rarely experienced by western children and was exposed to many different cultures and traditions among Thai and hill tribe villagers. Upon return to Wisconsin, adjustment back to American practices became formative in honing Bassett’s already wry and unconventional sense of humor.
Bassett is a lifelong art enthusiast from an artistic family. He began to involve himself seriously thanks to the influences of early teachers Harry Whitehorse, Claudia Pope and high school ceramics teacher, Don Hunt. All of these highly skilled artists from different media profoundly influenced Bassett, but he immediately felt at home with clay. Hunt taught the basics of ceramics, how to think critically about one’s work, and the importance of attention to spaces between and around each piece. Hunt laid a foundation for his students to be life-long learners, a lesson worth remembering for success at any enterprise.
Bassett took a reluctant break from artistic endeavors to serve as an aircraft loadmaster in the United States Air Force in 1995. During his four years in the service, he deployed multiple times to fly missions in the Middle East and Bosnia. This ceramic drought was not a total loss, however, as he discovered the joys of colored pencil drawing; which became his medium when access to clay was impossible.
After being discharge from the military he took up ceramics again in college. Initially obsessed with making human heads and busts, Bassett later began experimenting with things that invited viewers to more humorous “realities”. While most current creations incorporate the human form in one way or another, he has plans to expand his body of work to include other life forms. Highly influenced by the cartoonist genre, he enjoys creating sculptures which, absurdly or horrifyingly, sum up moments or expressions to which most of us can relate. He formed Dan Bassett Art LLC in 2016 and became an award winning artist in the Midwest before beginning his expansion to other regions.
Artist's Choice: 2016 New Glarus Wilhelm Tell Art Festival
Best in Show: 2017 Stoughton Art Walk
Best in Show: 2017 Rockford Art Museum's Greenwich Village Art Fair
Viewer's Choice: 2018 Stoughton Art Walk
Best 3d Mixed Media/ Sculpture: 2019 Artisan Square Summerfest
Best Sculpture: 2019 Art Fair off the Square
Best in Show: 2019 Stoughton Art Walk