Asian exhibit underscores potters' skills Export wares showcased in ceramic collection

January 08, 1998|By Phil Greenfield | Phil Greenfield,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

In the West, ceramics is a means to an end, a method of creating vessels to hold liquids and foods.

In the Eastern tradition, pots, plates, jars, vases, urns and architectural ornaments have long been considered works of art worthy of collection by Japanese tea masters and emperors.

The remarkable artfulness of these objects is the theme of "From Earth & Soul: The Evans Collection of Asian Ceramics," an exhibition of more than 50 pieces that will be on display at the Mitchell Gallery of St. John's College in Annapolis through Feb. 25. This collection, on loan from California State University, San Bernadino, has works from China, Korea, Vietnam and Thailand that date as far back as 300 B.C.

What quickly becomes apparent is that these pieces are much more than everyday, functional pots and jars. In their day, they were export wares, products made to be sold in a lucrative market that spread across Asia to Europe.

The entrepreneurial Asian potters were masters of color, shape, proportion.

fTC Notable pieces include a 2,200-year-old earthenware jar from Thailand and a 15th century Vietnamese plate teeming with floral life.

Also stunning is an architectural ornament that functioned as a protective device on the roof of a 14th century Buddhist temple in Thailand. The image is a combination of several mythical creatures and a snake, which lends it its whooshy, curvaceous shape.

Those interested in the ancient religions of the East have special cause to visit. Allusions to Hindu and Buddhist traditions abound in this pottery. Indeed, the entire well-annotated collection reads like an expressive history of Asian culture.

An opening reception and family program at which clay pinch pots will be made is planned for 3: 30 p.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday in the gallery lobby.

On Wednesday, art teacher Lucinda Edinberg will offer "Art Express," a lunchtime tour of the exhibit from 12: 15 p.m. to 12: 45 p.m.

Pottery instructor Rick Malmgren will give a talk titled "A Potter's View" at 4 p.m. Jan. 21 in the gallery.

The Mitchell Gallery is open from noon to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday and from 7 p.m. to 8 p.m. Friday. Admission is free.

Pub Date: 1/08/98

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