During the warmer months, my kitchen is mostly used to prep quick meals that will allow me to be outside longer, enjoying the evenings working in the garden, or going for hikes on the weekends. During the colder winter months, I rediscover my interest in meals that take longer to prepare and look for new recipes to try that require more planning and time spent in a warm, toasty kitchen. Whether serving a salad with some warm olives and cheese on the side, or a scratch-made soup or curry, I like to pair the meal with handmade bowls, trays, and tureens I’ve collected over the years. Some of the pots I own are versatile, pairing well with many different types of cuisine, while other pots seem suited for certain foods. Often, that’s by design.
Many artists who make functional work think about specific pairings of food and pots as part of their creative process. They learn what works well through receiving feedback from customers, observing pots in use, testing pots in their own kitchens, and inventing designs based on their personal cooking experiences and preferences. This approach, allowing creativity in the kitchen and in the studio to influence one another fluidly, is one that a number of artists featured in this issue use.
Yoko Sekino-Bové finds that thinking about serving a particular type of food and then thinking of a title based on experiences from everyday life helps her to design and create pots. In her article, she shares the ideas and processes that went into making a sushi set that includes bold, detailed brushwork and carved imagery of sushi and is clearly designed to be used by a family or group of friends sharing a generous dinner.
Sasha Barrett shares how his family’s mealtime traditions influenced him to create bowls and small dishes incorporating wheat motifs to reference his Ukrainian roots and culinary heritage. He designed shallow bowls for bite-sized foods that invite the user to reach in as well as to pass the bowl to share a serving with others.
Lindsay Oesterritter creates economically architectural, visually weighty forms. She uses austere shapes and rich, reduction-cooled surfaces for serving and displaying specific foods or ingredients with an eye-catching contrast. In addition to bringing observations from her own kitchen to bear on the designs, recent collaborations with chefs have given her new insights on how her work can be used.
Christina Bendo approaches her forms and cooking as an improvisation on a planned idea. She recently had the opportunity to pair her interest in using local and raw clays and regional plant life on a large-scale project: making the plates for the annual Salad Days event at Watershed Center for the Ceramic Arts in Maine. Designing to specific criteria for the plates included making them stackable, slightly curved, and large enough to hold and showcase portions of the numerous chef-made salads served at the event.
Our Spotlight artist, Nicole Aquillano, not only uses food as inspiration when making work, but she also uses it as part of her marketing strategy. She collaborates with a photographer to stage photos of finished pots with food and drink, as she has found that this gives people ideas on how to incorporate them into their daily routines, rather than placing them on a shelf as decorative objects.