Spring 2023

Spring 2023


Cover of the Spring 2023 issue of American Craft magazine

From the Editor

One of the oldest human-made forms on earth, the vessel—which by definition holds and contains—is probably as responsible for our survival as anything we have made with our hands.

We use vessels to carry water and to float on top of it. We drink from vessels. We cook, ferment, and travel in them. We use them to wash. In short, they’re a foundational, ubiquitous part of our lives. “Even a spoon is simply a bowl with a handle on it,” Jennifer-Navva Milliken of the Museum for Art in Wood said to me when we first talked about vessels.

Given the stresses and pressures of this moment in history, we thought it would be useful to turn our attention to what’s fundamental. So this issue is dedicated to the vessel, a form that not only sustains us but also offers us beauty in our everyday lives. A form that artists and craftspeople continue to draw upon to shape powerful and poignant works.

Here you’ll find handcrafted iterations of all sorts, including mourning vessels—urns, coffins, jewelry, and sculpture—designed to help the bereaved honor the dead, modern bud vases, a diagrammed Maine lobster boat, miniature bronze baskets by Suzye Ogawa, and a textile version of the traditional Korean moon jar by Hyunsoo Alice Kim.

You’ll also discover the striking works and powerful storytelling of Cochiti potter Virgil Ortiz, Sharif Bey’s take on African power figures (which he calls vessels), a close look at Ojibwe birchbark canoes by professor and author Anton Treuer, an essay on vessels and humanity by Milliken, and Janet Koplos’s account of her visit to the venerable St. Croix Valley Pottery Tour, where longtime artists are working to pass along the legacy of function to a new generation of ceramists.

Today, we are as enamored of and reliant upon vessels as ever, even as they continue to evolve and hold new meanings for us.

karen signature

KAREN OLSON / Editor in Chief

Sculptural ceramic vessel depicting a farm

Syd Carpenter’s O’Neal Smalls, 2021, stoneware, 13.5 x 23 x 17 in., is part of her Farm Bowls series.

American Craft Council publishes American Craft magazine on a quarterly basis but reserves the right to change the number of issues in an annual term, including discontinuing any format and substituting and/or modifying the manner in which the subscription is distributed.

Feature Articles

What’s in a Vessel?

Five artists describe the construction of their extraordinary vessels and reveal what they hold.

Inside the Birchbark Canoe

America has historical amnesia. Citizens today often struggle to face uncomfortable facts of history, such as the genocide of Native Americans, their internment in residential boarding schools, and slavery.

The Ceramist and the Superheroes

When dug out of the earth, the clay at Cochiti Pueblo, New Mexico, appears reddish brown, the chunks like dusted chocolate truffles. Virgil Ortiz, who was born and lives in this community of the Cochiti people, situated between the cities that Spanish colonizers named Albuquerque and Santa Fe, has been digging into this rich earth since his childhood.

Tiny Treasures

The vessels are ornamented bronze, finished with basketry details: coils and weaving in natural materials like sweetgrass, seagrass, bamboo, and grapevine.

Remembering Well

When Minhi England’s husband, Jesse, was terminally ill with peripheral nerve sheath cancer, the couple was forced to have heartbreaking conversations about what Jesse wanted to have happen to his body after he died.

More from This Issue

Seal gut, auklet crests, seal fur, cormorant feathers, cotton thread, red ochre.

Craft Happenings: Spring 2023

Spring is right around the corner, and the craft season is in bloom. Here are 25 events, exhibitions, and festivals happening across the country, organized by the month in which they start.