Bowls

bowl“The simple bowl is the great invention of the human mind,” says Tao Wang, an archeologist, in a New York Times piece by Julie Lasky (3/28/13). The thing is, the bowl hasn’t “changed much since the Neolithic era, between 4,000 and 10,000 years ago, when people first began making receptacles by hollowing out wood and stone or molding and baking clay …The new containers offered a place to hold the materials of community and ritual: food for sharing, incense for burning, water for irrigation, wine for sacrament, alms for the poor.”

And yet, notes Namita Gupta Wiggers of the Museum of Contemporary Craft, the bowl’s functionality as an everyday item somehow has left it largely outside the considered set of consumer desire: “Consumers … covet not just tables but Noguchi tables; not just chairs, but Eames chairs; not just lamps but Ingo Maurer lamps.” Namita thinks “we don’t talk about the bowl because it’s completely this everyday thing … We take it for granted. We know it too well.” So, Namita has put together an exhibition, Object Focus: The Bowl, featuring “nearly 200 bowls.”

To get at what’s special about the bowls on display, Namita invited “scholars, writers and artisans to select an example from the show and write a brief essay about it.” For example, “Daniel Duford, a potter and printmaker wrote … about a ceramic bread bowl of unknown origin that had been inherited from his wife’s great-grandmother,” describing it as “thick and stout like a Dutch farm wife.” Bowls do tend to evoke metaphors and the exhibit encourages “us to look at bowls with new eyes and find the poetry in their banality.” Namita invites “the public to contribute writings as well” at objectfocusbowl.tumblr.com

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