Cup: The Intimate Object V
Juror: Peter Pinnell
Dec. 2nd, 2006 - Jan. 6th, 2007
Reception Dec. 2nd, 6 - 9 pm
Welcome to the fifth year of our annual Cup: The Intimate Object exhibition series. This year's exhibit was juried by renowned ceramicist Peter Pinnell. Mr. Pinnell is a well renowned potter, teacher, lecturer, and workshop presenter. His work will be included in the exhibit.
Click here to view the exhibition, or you may select an artist individually from the list below. Please contact Charlie at (260) 458-9160 or firstname.lastname@example.org if you are interested in purchasing any of the pieces featured in the show.
** Denotes Juror's Choice Award
Sometime in the early first century AD, the Roman architect Vitruvious wrote a treatise called De architectura, which is the earliest surviving book on architecture. In it, he defines the idea of a good building in three words: firmitas, utilitas, and venustas, which in modern English would translate as durability, utility, and beauty. I’ve always thought that these terms could also define a nice pot, and could certainly be used to define a great cup.
One of the nice things about the cup is that it allows a degree of latitude among these elements that an architect would envy. We might give up some in the comfort of a cup in order to increase its visual delight, or give up some durability to gain the comfort of a lighter weight. This is similar to the way that many of us might own a sweater that needs to be hand-washed so that it can be made from a material that is warmer or more beautiful.
None of these three elements can be canonized: we all recognize too many different kinds of beauty, or more broadly, visual delight. Similarly, each of us grasps with different hands, and consumes different beverages, so there could never be complete consensus on which cup is most comfortable or commodious. So how can a juror ever find a scale by which to judge the relative merits of each cup? To my mind, there is only one way, which is to look at what each cup is trying to say and judge it on how well it’s accomplishing that task. This is the only way I know for comparing the merits of these relatively diversity approaches to the idea of “cup”. Otherwise, how could I possibly compare the extravagant exaggeration of a Helen Otterson sculpture with the quiet sincerity of a Bret Freund mug?
This show is unusual for me because I had to judge it from photographs. I’m used to jurying this way, but usually judging needs to be more precise, and requires that I actually hold the piece. The cup is, as the title of this show makes obvious, an intimate object, and it’s difficult to accurately assess each piece without touching it. Unfortunately, my flight to Fort Wayne was canceled due to bad weather, and couldn’t be rescheduled. In this case, I think it worked out ok: I spent several very entertaining hours on the phone with Charlie, in which he was my expert set of eyes and hands on the scene, describing all the additional characteristics of these pieces that were not apparent from the pictures on the web site.
Because I wasn’t able do the judging in person, I thought it best to not rank the awards. Instead, I’ve decided to give eight “Juror’s Choice” awards. I’m quite pleased with the quality of all entries into the show, and I think that this is a very strong show overall. It was difficult to narrow the awards down to just eight, but in the end I think these are a strong group of pieces, and reflect a nice variety of approaches.
I chose Kurt Anderson’s cup for its delightful, quirky drawing and simple, but elegant form. Bret Freund’s cup is a quiet, sensitively composed piece that appears to nicely balance form and function. What can I say about John Glick’s work that we all don’t already know? He is a master of glazing, combining form, texture, and color in rich, inviting ways. Robbie Heidinger’s Linear Cups look commodious and comfortable, with a wonderful softness to their geometry. I’ve admired Kyounghwa Oh’s beautifully carved vessels in the past, and I am glad she chose to enter this show. Her work is skillful and meticulous in its beauty. Helen Otterson’s fun and fanciful approach to the cup is a welcome relief to the commonplace: I would love to drink out of one, and better yet, serve tea in them to others.
Steve Robert’s cups are famous for their beauty, and these were no exception. I always enjoy the fresh soda-glazed colors and nicely composed forms. And finally, Lorna Meaden’s cups have a rich surface and fun pattern that suggest a medieval court jester or harlequin’s outfit. I like the way that the pattern is used to alter our perception of the cup’s form.
The cup is the workhorse of the ceramic world, and it’s easy to dismiss it as a lowly and commonplace tool performing the simple act of transporting a beverage from table to mouth. The reality is that a handmade cup can be delightful and engaging, and its use can be surprisingly pleasurable. The cups in this show represent a variety of ways for interpreting this object, and should be enjoyed and savored.