Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Blue and White All Over

dress w/ parasol and ceramic bodice
 During March, the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C., presented Iberian Suite, a celebration of the cultures of Portuguese- and Spanish-speaking peoples around the world that also highlighted the influences that the region absorbed from other cultures. This global arts remix included dance, theater, and music performances, as well as installations and a literature series.

Two of the installations were of particular interest. One was an exclusive exhibition of more than 140 of Pablo Picasso's ceramic pieces. The other was titled So Blue, So White: Fashions Centuries in the Making. It was a selection of blue and white fashions created by various designers. Interestingly, one of the dresses not only incorporated it's own parasol, but also had a bodice made of blue and white ceramics.
This fashion exhibit also told the "story" of cobalt, which was first mined in central Iran in the 9th century. The Persians used the pigment on ceramics, which had a great appeal to the Chinese. They, in turn, began importing cobalt, producing sophisticated two-tone ware in the 14th century. 

In a story of early "globalization," in the early 1500s, Portuguese merchants began importing these pieces. Exports of Chinese blue and white ceramics soared when the Dutch captured two Portuguese ships in 1602 and 1604 and their cargo of porcelain was sold at auction. Blue and white tableware became very popular in Europe and local manufacturers--most famously, those around the city of Delft--began emulating the style.
Andí's collection of blue/white plates

In the meantime, azulejos, or wall tiles, derived from the Islamic styles of North Africa and Muslim Spain, became emblematic of the decorative arts of the Iberian peninsula and soon spread to the Americas, particularly Mexico and Brazil.

Thus, the continuing allure of blue and white ceramics.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Gifts of Hope

Serving bowl
I recently created some pottery carrying the word "hope" to support Family Services of Roanoke Valley, a private, not-for-profit organization that has served Roanoke Valley residents since 1901. Its mission is to improve life and restore hope to the most vulnerable, from the very youngest children to the oldest adults, through prevention, counseling and support services. Family Service is a dynamic, multi-service agency helping a diverse population of clients that spans the area's economic, ethnic, and cultural divisions.

The items I created, including brie bakers, mugs, and serving bowls, can be purchased at Amiable Qualities' Gifts of Hope, which allows consumers to purchase artistic items that benefit nonprofits and the clients they serve. Proceeds from the sale of all items are distributed to the designated organization they benefit on a monthly basis to allow the most flexible and efficient use of the funds by the nonprofit directly. For more information, check out Gifts of Hope about page.

Brie bakers