Department of Art George Caleb Bingham Gallery
University of Missouri-Columbia
images of Art Department work
images of Art Department work George Caleb Bingham Gallery
  Past Exhibition      


A National Juried Exhibition

September 17th - October 4th, 2012
Reception: Thursday, September 27th, 5:00 - 7:00 pm
Juror's Lecture: Wednesday, October 3rd, from 4:00 - 5:00 Pm

The George Caleb Bingham Gallery is pleased to host The National Juried Exhibition "THE CLAY CUP". The reception will be on Thursday, September 27th, 5:00 - 7:00 pm and the Juror's Lecture will be on Wednesday, October 3rd, 4:00 - 5:00 Pm.

The exhibit, reception, and Juror's lecture are free and open to the public.

Juror’s Statement:

Sometime in the early first century AD, the Roman architect Vitruvious wrote a treatise called De architectura, which is the earliest surviving book on architecture. In it, he defines the idea of a good building in three words: firmitas, utilitas, and venustas, which in modern English would translate as durability, utility, and beauty. I've always thought that these terms could also define a nice pot, and could certainly be used to define a great cup.

One of the nice things about the cup is that it allows a degree of latitude among these elements that any architect would envy. We might give up some in the comfort of a cup in order to increase its visual delight, or give up some durability to gain the comfort of a lighter weight. This is similar to the way that many of us might own a sweater that needs to be hand-washed so that it can be made from a material that is warmer or more beautiful.

None of these three elements can be canonized: we all recognize too many different kinds of beauty, or more broadly, visual delight. Similarly, each of us grasps with different hands, and consumes different beverages, so there could never be complete consensus on which cup is most comfortable or commodious. So how can a juror ever find a scale by which to judge the relative merits of each cup? To my mind, there is only one way, which is to look at what each cup is trying to do and say and to judge it on how well it's accomplishing those tasks.

As contemporary artists, we would also include a criterion that Vitruvious does not: content. All pottery carries meaning, even if it's simply the imbedded meaning of being hand-made and striving for a sense of visual or experiential beauty. Utility provides us with a very powerful vehicle for carrying content and that is especially true for a seemingly simple utilitarian form like the cup. The cup is a trusted, intimate friend, and who better to deliver any message than a trusted friend?

The cup is the workhorse of the ceramic world, and it's easy to dismiss it as a lowly and commonplace tool performing the simple act of transporting a beverage from table to mouth. The reality is that a handmade cup can be delightful and engaging, and its use can be surprisingly pleasurable. The cups in this show represent a variety of ways for interpreting this object, and should be enjoyed and contemplated.

Pete Pinnell
Lincoln, Nebraska


For further information, contact Hanna Reeves at or Ferrie Craighead at 882-3555. email: .



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