Pots function in the present. Their integral relationship to the intimate, yet universal, social practice of the shared meal makes them a vital part of daily life. Pots are also documents of the past. They are records of their creation and of the culture that inspired their potential.

Spanning from the early-twentieth century to the present, the tableware in this two-part exhibition—whether produced in an artist’s studio or in a factory—form “conversations” around the currency of key issues in modern American culture. War, economic hardship, and social injustice often brought clarity to the vision of the artists represented here, even if their deliberate desire was to use their objects to celebrate hope, joy, and beauty under difficult circumstances. The vessels also address philosophical changes in education and celebrate technological advancements that have altered the look and feel of ceramics.

Paul Kotula, Assistant Professor, MSU Department of Art, Art History, and Design
Guest Curator

Conversations Around the Table: An American Experience is organized by the Eli and Edythe Broad Art Museum at Michigan State University and curated by Paul Kotula, Assistant Professor, MSU Department of Art, Art History, and Design. Support for this exhibition is provided by MSU Department of Art, Art History, and Design and the Broad MSU’s general exhibitions fund.

Paul Kotula wishes to thank the College of Arts and Letters for research funding related to this project and to John A. Sinker, Jr. whose gift of nearly 200 ceramic objects to MSU continues to inspire creative thinking.