Rudy Autio was born in Butte, Montana in 1926, and lived in his native state throughout most of his career. He headed the ceramics department at The University of Montana for 28 years. Prior to his appointment at The University of Montana, Autio, along with Peter Voulkos, was a founding resident artist at the Archie Bray Ceramics Foundation in Helena, Montana.
While Autio's best known works are figurative ceramic vessels, he has worked in a variety of materials and other media. In addition to commissions in ceramic relief and tile murals, he has created in bronze, concrete, glass, fabricated metal sculpture, and designed colorful Rya tapestries. Most of these were commissioned for public buildings in the Northwest and one is in Finland. His work has been exhibited extensively internationally.
Autio has received numerous honors and awards for his work, including a Tiffany Award in Crafts in 1963, the American Ceramic Society Art Award in 1978, and a National Endowment grant in 1980. In 1981, he was the first recipient of the Governor's Award and named outstanding visual artist in the state of Montana. In November 1999, he was awarded the American Craftsman's Gold Medal Award in ceremonies at the Mint Museum in Charlotte, N.C.