porcelain

Mala Meal Project

 'Dear Mother Nature', Dorsky Museum of Art, 2012

 'Dear Mother Nature', Dorsky Museum of Art, 2012

In about 1998 when my studio was in the meat packing district of lower Manhattan, I had a flash of an idea. I envisioned a collection of 108 bowls, metaphors for the beads in a mala, set in a circle on the steps of the Metropolitan Museum of Art and serve a very early morning breakfast. A hit and run sort of extemporaneous performative meal-art-thingy that never left my brain. 3 years later, after 9/11, I felt a sense of urgency to make an iteration of that idea come to life. The first Mala Meal event took place on June 21st, 2002 at Art Omi, Ghent, NY. A full Mala Meal with 108 bowls and 108 (or so) people to participate has happened 5 times in the past 13 years. As part of an art exhibition in honor of Mother Nature (Dear Mother Nature, Dorsky Museum of Art, SUNY New Paltz, 2012) and also part of a conference in Berkeley, California called Digital Earth, the Mala Meal Project speaks to a deeply felt need to connect. Universals are almost impossible to sustain -- the minute we find one, plurality, multiplicity and variation interrupt our universalizing desire. The Mala Meal Project allows a universalizing moment to occur within the confines of an event. The event is this ceremonial meal, preceded by a prayer (several prayers or blessings, actually) said in an inclusive and interfaith manner. The event at Berkeley included an atheist who said a lovely blessing -- one devoid of notions of God but without ideas about faith and hope and the possibility of life that includes the human on the planet. A secular humanist poet. Yay.

Finished Mala Meal bowls, waiting to be packed up

Finished Mala Meal bowls, waiting to be packed up

So, in the spirit of building community, I have been invited to share this event at the monthly artists' potluck that happens at the 1st Presbyterian Church in Hudson, NY tonight, October 16 at 6PM. In addition to the Mala Meal, we will see artworks by artists Stuart Farmery, Jan Harrison, Arnie Zimmerman and perhaps a few surprises. If you are around I hope you will come. Otherwise, stay tuned for future meal-art-thingies coming down the pipeline from the studio. Our business is our art and spirit.  

 

Musings on Production

Preparing bisque-ware to be glazed. Sage, Jessica and Ben.

Preparing bisque-ware to be glazed. Sage, Jessica and Ben.

We make things. That is our art, that is our business. By “our” I refer to myself and to the people that work at davistudio. By things I refer the items you see for sale on this website, at the studio, in stores listed on this website and at the craft shows, art fairs and markets we participate in. Everything that comes out of the studio, start to finish, is made here. For some this might seem obvious. I would suggest that for those to whom this is not news are a) people who know the studio, who have been here and have seen how it operates – OR – b) other makers/producers or aficiandos. Making/producing is a highly charged and complex activity. It wasn’t always so. For this bit of writing, suffice it to say that wealthy nations, such as the USA, have, for better or for worse, let go of much of our productive capacity. I argue that a shift is taking place, however.

The rise of the maker community, the rising awareness, acceptance even, of artists, designers, artisans and that nebulous being, the ‘creative’ are encouraging the noble act of making again.

Davistudio has been committed to making since its inception some 20 years ago. Pressure was applied by those who would like to see our products more cheaply made, or existing factories that would like our business itself. Somehow or another, I intuited the need to hold on for dear life the noble act of making, to maintain control of my productive capacity and by extension, every detail of the design and execution process. This control grants us control over options in regards to environmental protection as well as contributing to the economic integrity of our community. These small acts of agency allow us to live with greater freedom and to know that simply making is anything but simple. It is in fact, a revolutionary act. 

 

ps- 14 years ago today I was deeply impacted, as was everyone else alive on the planet, to an even further commitment to making. Keeping it local seems a better way to govern ourselves, to keep ourselves solid in community and to respect other's capacity to survive without our intervention. Never forget is a cry to tread lightly, to be an example and to be responsible.