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In the last days of the term late at night in the depths of Boliou, I collaborated on a cup with Myla.  I threw and glazed the cup, Myla did the drawings.  Some of the majolica on the other cups crawled a little, but thankfully this one came out of the kiln perfectly.  I think one photo doesn’t really do the drawings justice, so I put a few together.

I also got a new computer recently, and the Windows photo gallery has the option to combine photos into a panorama.  I thought it would be funny to put photos of this cup in there and see what it came up with.  The result is definitely odd:

I don’t think I’ve ever posted about the image at the top of this blog.  It is a photo I found in the Carleton digital collections archive.  The building is Boliou Hall in November 1950.  I don’t know who the photographer is, because I think it’s an architectural record.  But I do know that Boliou was built in 1949 by Magney, Tusler, & Setter, and it is the place where I spent 90% of my waking hours while at Carleton.

I was recently looking at A Plate A Day, which directed me to Musing about Mud, which in turn led me to discover an incredible exhibition at the Philadelphia Clay studio by Molly Hatch.  The exhibit, called Mimesis, is an exquisite show of cups and vases.  Hatch grew up in a family of artists and crafts people, so she is used to entertaining herself with creative endeavors.

One aspect of Hatch’s aesthetic that I really relate to is her affinity for decoration of hidden surfaces.

“A cup or a bowl is almost universally accessible and navigable as most people use them in their daily lives. For me, the blank cup is anonymous in a manner similar to a blank piece of paper. The three-dimensional surface tableware provides is rich with conceptual potential as a place for drawings and paintings. Interaction is encouraged through the decoration of hidden surfaces—the underside of a cup, beneath a lid or on a handle.”

Ceramic surfaces have so much potential for exploration and decoration.  I love artists use decorative traditions to explore ideas of craft and surface.  There is the meta aspect of drawing cups on cups, but I think looking at the work through that lens is really limiting (and not just because there are also vases, plates, drawings, and wallpaper painting in the show).  The cups on which she draws are not anything entirely remarkable; they are a series of simple, identical, white cups.  But the illustrated cups are very  intriguing.  They allude to ceramic history, especially functional ceramic objects that have been in china cabinets for centuries.  They are ordinary cups depicting ordinary cups, but pairing the two makes for a graceful and stunning object.  I generally thing most things look better when presented en masse, and in the show the cups are presented as a large set on pegs like you might see in someone’s kitchen (albeit within a frame).

I also really love her drawing style.  Her aesthetic is one I really relate to: beautifully decorative, but still subtle and simple.  She takes normally pristine decorative motifs and applies them in a way that shows great evidence that it was done by hand.  Applying imperfect marks to a pristine surface gives the pieces a lot of character and movement, characteristics I think are often lacking from a lot of glazed surfaces.  I am obviously showing my bias here, being that I am a ceramics person who also loves to draw.  I am tempted to gush all day about how much I love her work, but really you should have a look for yourself.

You can visit the exhibition website for more information and the gallery where all the images in this post came from:

And for more information about Molly Hatch, visit her website here: