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Vessel: Embodiment, Autonomy, and Ornament in Wood

November 4, 2022 – February 12, 2023

Exhibition curator: Jennifer-Navva Milliken

One of the most fundamental forms in craft, the vessel has long been an essential tool for use as well as for understanding the universe and the afterlife. From bowls and spoons to crucibles and boats, vessels have facilitated human survival, industry, and legend. The vessel’s role of containment also positions it as a metaphysical device that carries the soul, or as a metaphor for understanding autonomy, power, and agency over one’s body.

Connecting to the Center for Art in Wood’s origins as an advocate for woodturning in art, this exhibition examines the vessel as a source of inspiration for artists working in wood. How have they been informed not only by the material and the pleasing roundness of the turned form, but also questions of offering and ownership, or concealment and emptiness? For millennia, the idea of the vessel has been used to explain the secrets of the universe. This exhibition, which includes works from the Center’s permanent collection as well as on loan, demonstrates the breadth of reflection, empowerment, subversion, and spiritual awareness inspired by the act of containment and the vessel form.

Join us for the Opening Reception on Friday, November 4th from 5:00 – 8:00 pm.

With works by: Humaira Abid, Michael Bauermeister, Vivian Chiu, Kyle Cottier, Alison Croney Moses, Frank E. Cummings III, Aaron Haba, Michelle Holzapfel, Dierra Jones, Maria van Kesteren, Markuu Kosonen, Jack Larimore, Sylvie Rosenthal, David Sengel, and Lynne Yamaguchi

The exhibition program is generously supported by the Cambium Circle Members of the Center for Art in Wood, the Bresler Foundation, Pennsylvania Council on the Arts, Philadelphia Cultural Fund, and Windgate Foundation. In-kind support was provided by Boomerang, Inc. and Sunlite Corporation.


Aaron Haba, Vessel, 2014, Courtesy of the Artist
Alison Croney Moses, What We Hold, 2022, Photo by Michelle Davidson-Shapiro Photography
David Sengel, Thorned Vessel, 1993, Photo by John Carlano
Dierra Jones, Connection, 2021, Photo by Michael T. Davis
Humaira Abid, Sacred Games II, 2020, Photo by Adeel Ahmed
Jack Larimore, Sycamore Story, 2021, Myles Pettengill
Kyle Cottier, Empty Vessels Make the Loudest Sound, 2022, Courtesy of the Artist
Sylvie Rosenthal, Skull Teapot, 2014, Photo by Jim Escalante
Vivian Chiu, Self, 2018-19, Courtesy of the Artist


Our Funders

Windgate Foundation

The Philadelphia Cultural Fund

Pennsylvania Council On The Arts

The Bresler Foundation