gwendolyn yoppolo uses words, ceramic objects, and food to stretch boundaries and transform perception. She creates sensuous kitchen- and table-wares that use the physical experience of hunger and satiation to allude to larger issues of human desire and relationship. Her visionary designs challenge us to rethink the ways we nourish ourselves and others within contemporary food culture. She earned an MFA in Ceramics from Penn State University, an MA in Education from Columbia University, and a BA in Sociology from Haverford College. A passionate educator and thinker as well as a maker, she is currently serving as Assistant Professor of Ceramics at Kutztown University. Her writing can be found in Studio Potter, Pottery Making Illustrated, and Passion and Pedagogy.
Rooted in tradition and practicality, utilitarian ceramics can actually serve as radical, transformative art. Dining is a multi-sensory experience that engages us beyond the level of physical nourishment to ignite our sense of selfhood, relationship, ancestry, and culture. Experience with handmade pottery stretches those sense organs and alters the scripts by which we interact around food.
Making is a way for me to feel out the space carved by my gestures, and to outline that space with matter so I can offer it out to other bodies. The material container created is only of necessity; it holds forth the space more than it insists on its own presence, ideally disappearing into the felt experience of the work. This style of holding forth is one of offering, generosity, and empathy, rather than one-sided expatiation.
My pieces of necessity engage the physical senses but also exercise the mental, emotional, interpersonal, and spiritual senses that we use to understand our world. I’m interested in how experiences with the handmade can exercise sense organs beyond the visual or tactile, affecting our sense of self and other; of immanence; of mental and emotional processing; of transformation; or of time, among others.
Feeding vessels, for example, hold forth ideas about self and other, and about relationships that we engage in during food events. These vessels hold forth the space of generosity, empathy, and vulnerability that exist between people who offer and receive food with each other.