Why is it that elaborate handcrafted items are considered to be symbols of status by some? Is it because of their existence in our intimate domestic spheres? It it because they we’ve attached our identity of health and wealth to food? In a discussion of Lorna Meaden’s punchbowl (pictured below), we were throwing around ideas of use and celebration. When would someone use such an item? Who would purchase such a thing? Why? In what manner would it be used? For lavish gloating? For ostentation? Or for community and joy? Lorna makes this item with the later in mind. No potter sets about thinking their wares will empower the wealthy with the desire to marginalize the less money oriented (Hello! They are a potter they ARE the less money oriented!) Lorna in no way sets about making this punch bowl to add to an elitist cult and shun those with sangria in paper cups. It is a service which demands conviviality and participation- not segregation. But it is an object that you would not use alone, it demands a witness, it demands a party. So when does an item really become a status symbol? When a purchaser say so? When a third party deems it so, someone without a lavish ceramic punch bowl?
Status indeed. What does an item like this state when purchased and used with the makers intended sentiments? I support the arts? I love to share beauty? I really appreciate punch? I like to celebrate? Or I’m a pompous ass? Really, here let’s keep perspective. Pottery walks the most peculiar line. Lowly craft or elitist luxury good? Let’s face it- you or I could vow off coffee for the next two years and put that money towards a Lorna Medean punch bowl. And if it really is an item that could symbolize status why does it not coast at the very least $5,000- $20,000 a deserved sum for such a work of art. Why in ceramics are there so many notions that don’t jive? Elitist every day objects. Less face it, we don’t live in a world of entertainment like we used to, where people were invited into our intimate domestic realms to eat and be entertained. How many times did you host a dinner party this month? How often did you done with more than three people for more than 30mins this week?
There is no denying that hand crafted pottery here in North America are luxury items, but they are private luxury items. But so is… Everything. Is not all art? No, art is synonyms with every level of wealth and culture. People in some parts use daily the most beautiful pots are earth and these are considered lowly in comparison to plastic. Why project misguided hierarchical categories of status on such an item intended to celebrate sharing and community?