Ashley Padgett and Amy Uthus

Current and former Artist in Residence at the RDG Dahlquist Art Studio display ceramic sculptures at the Heritage Gallery in Des Moines, Iowa.

Polk County Heritage Gallery - 111 Court Avenue, Des Moines IA
Opening reception February 9th, 5pm to 7pm

Ashley Padgett

Ashley Padgett is a contemporary ceramic and mixed-media artist whose work discusses gender identity and modern feminist topics. She is currently the R.D.G. Dalquist Studio Artist in Residence where she teaches several courses.


Ashley Padgett received her Masters of Fine Art in Ceramics from Kansas State University in 2013 where she was the Timothy R. Donoghue Graduate Scholarship recipient from 2010 to 2012 and Strecker Nelson MFA Art Scholarship recipient in 2013. She is the RDG Dahlquist Art Studio Artist in Residence where she has served as educator and coordinator since 2014. She has taught Ceramics at Kansas State University, Coastal Carolina University, the Columbia Community Arts Center in South Carolina, the Des Moines Art Center, and the RDG Dalhquist Art Studio. Her current works' focus on gender identity and feminist awareness is largely due to the environment of her youth - a traditional nuclear family in Lexington, South Carolina. The contradiction betwen the her educational opportunities as the child of two educators versus the treatment and expectations of southern women provides a consistent source of artistic perspective. Her family took advantage of the neighboring town of Edgefield which still has a long history of traditional ceramic pottery and her family created a small collection of classic regional pottery which adorn her childhood home. Ashley fondly remembers finding refuge in large vessels during games of hide and seek. Ashley resides in Des Moines, Iowa with her husband that she met as Undergraduate student at the University of South Carolina.

Artist Statement

My artwork focuses on gender, memory and femininity and the ways these aspects influence our identity. Memories influence how we perceive ourselves in regards to our past. That past is what we grow and learn from and those that raised us participated in those memories in part. My life includes very different types of women, my memories of them, and what they taught me carry through into my actions and thoughts as an adult. The women that raised me had different education backgrounds, religious outlooks, political beliefs, and various ideas of the roles of women. This submersion in diverse femininity created a life long interest in what type of women I think I should be versus the type of women I actually am and how the memories of those lessons still affect me today.

I deal with imagery and accessories to create memory montages. These montages are created by using fabrics and materials that are quintessential parts of femininity created through past experiences and our culture’s media. These materials are influenced from dresses I remember from the first day of school or from an awkward sexual experience. The memories of being a girl in those moments meant that I was unsure of myself because the information given to me by friends or family was insufficient to keep me from embarrassment. Creating a memory that taught me that I was not as prepared for school as I thought and a dress was a bad idea or as much a femme fatal as I thought. I use those memories as a starting point for my work. I reflect on how I felt versus what I had been told to feel. What I was wearing and how I thought I looked versus what others were wearing and how they acted is the information I use to create sensory-scapes of my influences, history, and adult identity

Contact Information

Amy Uthus

Amy Uthus is an independent artist located in the Des Moines, Iowa, area. She enjoys gardening and teaching ceramics in addition to working in her clay studio.


Amy earned a BA, magna cum laude, from North Dakota State University in art and English. She attended graduate school at the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth, earning her MFA in ceramics in 2012. In 2014, NDSU presented her with an Alumni Achievement Award for early career success.

Amy has experience at a wide variety of studios. She was the inaugural Artist-in-Residence and Education Coordinator at RDG Dahlquist Art Studio in Des Moines, IA. She has also been an International Student Resident at the International Ceramics Studio (Kecskemét, Hungary), and an Artist-In-Residence at Guldagergaard International Ceramics Research Center (SkælskØr, Denmark).

She has taught workshops and classes at the Des Moines Art Center, Johnston Community Education, the After School Arts Program, RDG Dahlquist Art Studio, and the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth. Contact her if you would like to schedule a class, workshop, lecture, or demonstration.

Artist Statement

I draw on my love for the beauty of light interacting with porcelain and my veneration of vast landscapes to create luminous works of art. My work is ripe for wonder. Wonder provides a direct connection to our primal spirituality, which so often gets buried in our busy, minutiae-filled lives. The goal of my work is to re-awaken in viewers the inherent need we all harbor to feel part of a larger whole - and then provide sustenance for this need.

Though I am willing to use many processes and media to achieve my artistic goals, I specialize in translucent porcelain. Like many others throughout history who have been seduced by porcelain's thrall, I relish the challenge of transforming "dirt" into a material so translucent one can easily discern color through it. I have spent countless hours researching the chemical analysis of each ingredient in my clay body, developing new methods to slip cast ultra thin panels and vessel walls, and carefully documenting each kiln that is fired. I have studied the material to such an extent, and my love for it is so transparent, that one of my good friends calls me a Porcelain Junkie. I own the title proudly!

Photo by Jen Kill at Simply.You.Photography.

Amy's teaching information is available at LIGHT WITHIN STUDIO, LLC

Contact Information

RDG Dalhquist Art Studio

The RDG Dahlquist Art Studio classroom opened in 1994, teaching classes for The Des Moines Art Center. Since then, hundreds of students from throughout the greater Des Moines area, including those from a consortium of colleges and universities, have taken classes and workshops. The success and accomplishments of the studio are well known, and the commitment to education is proven. Classes are offered in a variety of topics: from learning how to throw on the potter's wheel, to handbuilding techniques in both basic and advanced formats. We also offer theme-based courses on topics such as printmaking on clay and glaze formulation, as well as classes for families. There are also opportunities to access the studio outside of class to work independently. Our visiting artist program brings in a variety of ceramic artists who will share new techniques, ideas, and bring energy into our studio that helps to create a more exciting working atmosphere.

More information about the program is available at