Hello Friends! Please join us next Sunday, May 23rd from 11-2, for a special outdoor pottery event. I will be selling a nice collection of seconds, a bunch of planters, and I'll be having sale on vases. I can't wait to show you what I've been working on!
BUT what I'm most excited to share with you is an art cup collaboration with Steven Cummings. Steven will also be opening his space up for you to check out. Read more about this below.
Sunday May 23rd
11am - 2pm
803 7th street
(REAR ALLEY) NE
Washington DC 20002
(please remember that we're down the alley behind this address)
As always, kids are welcome.
We'll reschedule for the following weekend if it rains.
GENTRIFIRED - 'My Cup Runneth Over'
A collaboration between Steven Cummings and Hollow Work Ceramics
This series consists of 11 limited edition cups made with local clay. These cups are mementos. They are collector’s items. They are Chocolate City Memorabilia. They are Steven Cummings Souvenirs.
They are a chance for you to hold, to enjoy, to contemplate, and to drink from a vessel that will bring a small piece of Steven's conceptually rich and aesthetically beautiful art into your home. It is my hope that these cups take something temporal - a paper photograph, a wheat paste poster, or even an instagram post - and make something materially permanent, because fired clay lasts a long time. Fragments of pots have been found from 20000 years ago, and who knows, these cups might become the future shards discovered in a DC construction site. Thanks for reading and we hope to see you on the 23rd! Read on to learn more about the clay I used for this collaborations and 3 facets of Steven's Art.
In 2018 I was walking home from Wholefoods, and at the corner of 7th and H st right near the Alley that Steven and I have our studios in, I peered through a fence and into the giant pit of a construction site. The small row houses and stores had been torn down and soon the foundation would be laid for another brand new mixed use space and (now closed) WeWork.
I saw beautiful seams of Red clay running through the uncovered earth and I thought, “How exciting! This is the same seam of clay that runs directly under my home and studio. I should make some pots out of that!” So, I introduce myself to the construction crew and connected with a kind man named Frank. He filled up my buckets and I gave him some pots. It was a lovely interaction.
At first I saw the potential of this clay only in the catchphrase it would allow me to use -- ‘Truly Local!', but as I sat with the buckets and began searching for clay in more and more giant pits popping up around my neighborhood, I knew I couldn’t squander the 'capital C' content that this clay possessed. It couldn’t be wasted on a buzzword, not to mention that making and selling cups ‘with local clay!' when the act of uncovering said clay undeniably speaks to the actual displacement of black people / local families from my neighborhood, would be completely tone deaf. So naturally I began to talk to Steven about it. This is a topic right up his alley (sorry – I do love puns). His images on these cups are particularly poignant, and below I've provided some reading for you to learn why.
1. Chocolate City Rest in Peace
Here’s some text from a DCist article by written by Elliot C. Williams in 2019: 'For the last three years, Cummings has been posting his photos from the 1990s and early 2000s to his Instagram profile @chocolatecityrip. He first got the idea to post the photos on Instagram in January 2016 after sifting through thousands of negatives from his early days living in Shaw and seeing something special. (He’s since moved to Bloomingdale).“There was no real value in the work when I first shot it. No one asked to see them or did any shows for it,” Cummings says. “When I looked back on the work, I realized I captured the last part of the Chocolate City.” The Instagrammed depiction of demographic change in Washington isn’t just an artist’s fantasy. A March study revealed that D.C. has had the highest percentage of gentrifying neighborhoods in the U.S., with an estimated 20,000 black residents being displaced from 2000 to 2013. Chocolate City was real, with a black population of 71.1 percent in 1970, compared to 48.4 percent in 2015.' Read the entire article and see the images Here.
If you live in DC you’ve likely seen this graffiti. Steven has been illegally pasting up his image since 2010. I like to think of it as an ongoing performance piece - he's been putting up thousands of eyes on the city during its most dramatic time of gentrification. I really love this description by Ryan Reft in a piece about street art in 2012: 'One of the most widely disseminated images appears to be a portrait framing a somber man of indeterminate age, who stares directly ahead through large circular glasses; a bowler hat and high collar complete the vaguely Victorian ensemble. The impressive part is the distribution: The artist has deployed the image all around the city, on telephone booths and boarded-up windows, as well as via small stickers attached to free newspapers.' The article goes on to say that Steven’s prints 'served simultaneously as subliminal adverts for his own art and a means to reshape abandoned D.C. buildings into something more the urban detritus.'
3. Self Portraiture
Rod Terry beautifully wrote the following about Steven's thoughts on self portraits for the exhibit titled 'To Show Me' at Big Bear. 'The aim is to illuminate the relevance of self-portraiture and how it can be used to breakdown cultural, racial and psychological barriers. In many ways, self-portraiture is a privileged encounter that provides insight not only into the physical appearance, but also the mental and emotional state of the artist.
Historically, artists have recreated their own image to study their craft, hone their skills and construct a visual representation through their own medium. Unlike modern-day selfies that inundate social media platforms, the self- portrait is a more cultivated, revelatory medium where souls are laid to bare. It requires a higher level of planning, technique, posing and consideration.
To Show Me includes 12 self-portraits of local photographer Steven M. Cummings that are drawn from his work, travels, home life, leisure and pensive moments of solitude and introspection. It is a photographic diary — a moment of mid-career self-reflection. Each portrait in the exhibition offers the viewer a window to understand the artist in a way that his actual work could never reveal. Fragments of self-revelation, vulnerability, vintage, political commentary, social consciousness and creative identity can be found in each portrait.
To Show Me challenges the viewer to embrace this form of self-representation as a mirrored reflection of a particular moment. It is not solely about the aesthetic value of the image, but more so about revealing who you are. The energy, movement and light in each image reflects everyday life and attempts to break down barriers of —race, gender, place, social status and sexual identity — that can hold us all back and keep us from seeing ourselves as we truly are. To Show Me is a simple reminder that we all want to be seen and accepted at face value. Of course, the way we see ourselves is not always how others see us, but the point is to be seen, to show up on the world’s stage every day and be honest and open about who we are.'