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The Beginning of the End

Semester Plan of Action/Proposal

Themes and Concepts

I want to create a work that speaks both to the romantic fantasies associated with the craft of pottery, as well as to the realities of labor. One of the central motifs of the pottery profession is a romantic view of the communal table. Pottery is, when defined by many contemporary potters’ statements, about sharing, about joyful gatherings with communities, about connections between user and maker. In many ways, these notions are romantic fallacies. Platters in museums do not participate in joyous feasts. Expensive sets are brought out for only the most formal occasions. For the most part, to those who buy these objects, the joyous everyday is not for art pottery. But, fallacy or not, they speak to the intentions and romantic ideals of the pottery discipline.

This romantic fantasy of the communal table is a cultural touchstone for more than the pottery community. Western culture, indeed, many cultures, hold a romantic ideal of the family table. This ideal is pervasive in literature, art, and all forms of commerciality: entertainment, advertising, etc. Judy Chicago referenced the dinner party in her work The Dinner Party, as a connection to traditionally feminine craft as well as consumption.

The main device of my installation will be modeled after ancient water clocks, which told time with vessels and water. Vessel forms will be placed in a pool of water, into which they will slowly sink as they fill. This is a representation of accumulation—the accumulation of time, of labor, of words and meaning, and of memory.


Display Methods

This project is a gallery installation. I want to use the Dorsky Museum to provide a foil for relational objects by placing them in a constructed setting that mimics the artifice of some social interactions.

There will be two tables. On table will be set, the surface crowded with functional forms, part elaborately set tea party, part hoarder’s table overrun with a proliferation of forms. The structures of the objects themselves will mimic the layering of the forms and surfaces. The groupings and forms will suggest the breakdown, entropy of human interaction, and at the same time, the wild profusion and fertility of connection, the miracle of the persistent romance to the contrary that makes any communication at all possible.

The second table will actually be a table-like pool of water, in which the forms from the first table will be floated, until they finally sink to the bottom, accumulating masses and layers of forms that will sit below the surface of the water. Some vessels will not sink and will remain floating.

Surface decoration of the vessels will include written texts. Using coats of glaze, I create layers of writing, spaces, faded words, and patterns. I want the texts to have layers, both literally and figuratively, to be discovered over time, imagined in some places, where the meaning has been lost or distorted beyond recognition. Functional objects offer ideal circumstances for the discovery of these layers and secrets.

All art can be known and discovered over time, but functional objects, however fantastically decorative, are mundane; they are just as insidious as the written word in that they are both highly charged and commonplace. Pottery represents communal, empathic, relational objects. Their pervasive, pedestrian nature allows them to be as accessible as the written word in our modern world.