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Artist: Heidi McKay Casto

Heidi McKay Casto, IOWA
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Our reality is a connected web of our perceptions, beliefs, relationships, and surroundings. These endless moments inform and shape our human experience with myriad complexity. I am often struck in my work depicting animals that their lives feel conversely present, acute, and directed in their instinctual behaviors and subsistence. I wonder about my root instincts as a result; what I might make, do, and see, without the world pushing in with pressure, judgement, and expectation. 

This work intends to make space for such internal dialogues, and to hold you emotionally, while you hold it physically. I hope it brings joy to every day experience, and a story to the surface of objects of comfort and utility. The goal is a synchronistic exchange of connection, in which care and beauty are more present in daily life, and where complex human emotions might be made more discernible through light-hearted depictions of anthropomorphized animal subjects. 

Heidi McKay Casto lives and works in Iowa City, and is a member of the Ceramics faculty at the University of Iowa. Casto earned a BFA degree in Ceramics from The Ohio State University in 2002, and MA and MFA degrees from The University of Iowa in 2011. As Heidi McKay Designs, she creates sculpturally functional objects that feature a variety of playful design elements, anthropomorphic animal portraits, and vibrant colors. Her work has been featured extensively at venues such as Companion Gallery, The Clay Center of New Orleans, The Clay Art Studio in Port Chester, New York, Red Lodge Clay Center in Montana, The Clay Studio of Philadelphia, and The Strictly Functional Pottery National. Heidi McKay Casto was recently named a Ceramics Monthly 2022 Emerging Artist. 



M.F.A. The University of Iowa, 2011 

M.A. The University of Iowa, 2010

B.F.A. The Ohio State University, 2002

Selected Exhibitions

2022 Eutectic Gallery NCECA Expo 2022, Sacramento, CA (online).

Last Call VII, Companion Gallery, Humboldt, TN, Juried by Tim Kowalczyk. 

Mug Madness 2022, Salt Stone Ceramics, Seattle, WA, Juried by Didem Mert and Brandon Peña. 

2021 Cup: The Intimate Object XVII, Invited Artist, Charlie Cummings Gallery, Gainesville, FL.

29th annual Strictly Functional Pottery National, juried by Roberto Lugo, Margaret Kinkade and Brooks Oliver, Lancaster Museum of Art, Lancaster, PA.

  Juried Clay National VI, Red Lodge Clay Center, juried by Lorna Meaden, Red Lodge, MT 

A Taste of Home, Clay Art Center, juried by Julia Galloway, Port Chester, NY.

2021 Yunomi Invitational, Clay Akar, Iowa City, IA. 

Geaux Cups IV, Clay Center of New Orleans, New Orleans, LA, Juried by Chris Hosbach.

4th National Cup Show, Hudgens Center, Duluth, GA, Juried by Shoko Teruyama. *Awarded Honorable Mention and Purchase Prize. 

Sip: A Ceramic Cup Show, Savannah Clay Community, Savannah GA.

Ware/Wear 2021 Vessel and Jewelry Exhibition, Pocosin Arts School of Fine Craft, Columbia, NC, Juried by Candice Methe and Tanya Crane. 

Clay and Life, Eutectic Gallery, Portland, OR in conjunction with NCECA 2021.

Last Call VI, Companion Gallery, Humboldt, TN, Juried by Samantha Momeyer.

adness 2021, Salt Stone Ceramics, Seattle, WA, Juried by Michelle Ettrick and Chris Hosbach.

Small Favors 2021, The Clay Studio, Philadelphia, PA, Juried by Kensuke Yamada.

2020 Functionfest 2020, Clay Center of New Orleans, New Orleans, LA, Juried by Martha Grover. 

Cup: The Intimate Object XVI, Charlie Cummings Gallery, Gainesville, FL. 

Connections Virtual Exhibition, Clay Art Center, Port Chester, New York.

Material Mugs V: Underglaze, Companion Gallery, Humboldt, TN, Juried by Mike Cinelli.

Yunomi Invitational 2020, Clay Akar, Iowa City, IA.

Clay and Life Project, Eutectic Gallery, Portland, OR, curated by Brett Binford and Dan Anderson.

Small Favors 2020, The Clay Studio of Philadelphia, Philadelphia, PA. 

Handmade For Your Valentine, Clay Akar jewelry exhibition, Iowa City, IA.

2019      Past Curfew Pop-Up, in conjunction with NCECA 2019, Fair State Brewery, Minneapolis, MN.

2018 The Clay Cup IV: Icon, Vessel, Canvas. George Caleb Bingham Gallery,

University of Missouri, Columbia, Mo. Juried by Ayumi Horie.  

Give and Take, Public Space One, Iowa City, IA. Exhibitor and curator of group exhibition, panel discussion, and showcase of working mother artists from across the US. 

2017 Sloppy Late Night Pop-Up, in conjunction with NCECA 2017. Double Dragon, Portland, OR. 

2013 We Met in Iowa: Recent Work by Graduates and Faculty of the University of Iowa Ceramics Department

Exhibited at Pittsburgh State University, Pittsburgh, Kansas, and Earlham College, Richmond, Indiana.

2012 Clay? IV: Kirkland Arts Center, Seattle, Washington. Juried by Doug Jeck, Akio Takamori, and Jamie Walker. 

Small Favors, The Clay Studio, Philadelphia,  Pennsylvania.

2011 New Work, two-person exhibition at The Quad Cities International Airport, Moline, IL. Juried by The Quad Cities Arts 

Council, Davenport, IA. May-June, 2011.

NCECA National Student Juried Exhibition. The University of South Florida, 

Tampa, FL.

2010 The Seventh Annual Marge Brown Kalodner Graduate Student Exhibition, The Clay Studio, Philadelphia, PA.

A Body in Transition, two-person exhibition, The Armature Gallery, Iowa City, IA.

Story of She: Copulation and Medication, two-person exhibition. Eve Drewelowe Gallery, Iowa City, IA.

Solo Exhibitions

June 2022  Featured Artist, Charlie Cummings Gallery, Gainesville, FL. * Forthcoming 

2011 Reflections on Motherhood, an MFA Thesis Exhibition. Eve Drewelowe Gallery, Iowa City, IA.

2010 The Animals She Becomes, The Armature Gallery, Iowa City, IA.



2022 Ceramics Monthly 2022 Emerging Artist Award/Feature.

2021 4th National Cup Show, Honorable Mention and Purchase Prize, Hudgens Center, Duluth, GA.


2022 Ceramics Monthly Magazine, May 2022: Ceramics Monthly Emerging Artist.

2021 Ceramics Monthly Magazine, November 2021: Exposure Section, image from Strictly Functional National 2021.

2020 Clay and Life: Contemporary American Couples in Clay, Published and distributed by Eutectic Gallery, Portland, OR. 

Ceramics Monthly Magazine, December 2020: Exposure Section, image from Clay Art Center’s, Connections exhibition. 

2018 Iowa City Press-Citizen, September 2018: Artist Moms from Iowa City and Beyond Cope, 

Thrive with Kids in Studios. An interview, article and images featuring the exhibition: Give and Take. 

2011 Ceramics Monthly Magazine, September, 2011: featured images and article citation from the 2011 

NCECA National Juried Student Exhibition, images of work in exhibition. 



2019- Present Adjunct Assistant Professor of Art, The University of Iowa.

2015-2016 Adjunct Instructor of Art, Kansas State University, Manhattan, KS

2008 – 2011 Instructor of Record, The University of Iowa, Iowa City, IA.

2007-2008 Art and Seminar Teacher, Scattergood Friends School, West Branch, IA.

Ceramics Technician, Scattergood Friends School, West Branch, IA


Professional Experience

2017- Present Heidi McKay Designs, Owner and Operator, Iowa City, IA.

2021 Virtual Artist Talk in conjunction with The Clay Art Center’s exhibition: A Taste of Home.

2018 Give and Take Roundtable, Guest Panel Artist, Iowa City, IA.

2017-2019 Public Space One, Gallery Team Member, Iowa City, IA.

2013 Guest Juror, The Janalyn Hanson White Gallery, Mount Mercy University, Cedar Rapids, IA. 

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