Posted by Mary Cloonan, Programs Director

The incomparable and always informative Pete Pinnell provides food for thought for potters who make pots for food. For too long the debate of craft vs art has stymied and stigmatized the handcrafted object. Pete is going to put that argument in a headlock, make it cry “uncle” and show how they are intertwined and functionality does not negate an object’s beauty, but enhances it. You can’t serve your Thanksgiving turkey off of a Van Gogh. Well, at least I wouldn’t try. But I am a vegetarian.

His talk , Hold it right there will investigate the interaction between pottery and the people who love it; those who make it and those inviting it into their daily lives. Or as he more elegantly states: “We don’t just look at pottery: we experience pottery in a way that is complex and holistic.” Pete will motivate ceramic artists to work beyond just function and striving for a more inclusive approach

Think of it like a utility belt of elements and aspects to consider and appreciate,  encircling your studio practice. He muses “Generally speaking, pottery’s core functions deal with five aspects of food: eating, drinking, serving, preparation and storage.” He’ll provide historical and contemporary examples illustrating the impact of an aesthetic and tactile consideration paired with the use of the object. Using pottery should be an elevated encounter. How the cup sits in your hand, the sensory experience of the handle meeting your fingertips, how it holds and delivers sustenance and camaraderie.  He will discuss how the experience of using an object instills an aesthetic experience that can match or even rival the “transcending function” movement. Pete will provide a structure for critical thinking that will inspire the craftsman working in their studio and the teacher instructing their students.

The idea that one can own a beautiful, hand-crafted object and it can hold our morning coffee is fortunate indeed. It should not be underestimated, nor considered an impediment to its value.

Categories: 2016 Conference, Featured

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