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Thursday, January 16, 2014

Great Experience "Getting Mugged" with Clemson University's Potent Object Project

Today I got "mugged."  Don't worry: I'm fine, and I wasn't attacked.

In fact, quite the contrary. I had a great time exchanging a story about my father for a ceramic mug.  I plan to live with and use the mug for two weeks and then exchange it with my daughter in exchange for her story.  The idea is that she'll also live with the mug and trade it with someone else.

Detail showing the ceramic decal CR codes glazed
to the bottom of each mug.
This all came about because two of Clemson University students: Patricia Fancher, Ph.D. candidate in the Rhetorics, Communication, and Information Design progra, and Brent Pafford, MFA candidate in the Art Department (ceramics emphasis).  Patricia and Brent teamed up to develop a project that involves the fabrication and distribution of 500 hand-made mugs they plan to exchange for 500 stories.

The aim of the project is to create connections. Ceramics and oral histories will create connections by highlighting our shared experiences. In addition, this project creates connections between the disciplines of Visual Art and Rhetorics. Building out from these connections, the project seeks to integrate the work of Clemson’s creative culture into the broader Clemson community and beyond.

This project began with the simplest, most common material: clay. With this clay, Patricia and Brent have made the most everyday of objects, those objects that populate our cabinets and desks: ceramic mugs. From these common and shared beginnings, this project calls attention to the locations where unique individuals assemble, share, exchange, divide, drift, and reconnect.

All participants will begin with a shared experience with handmade ceramic mugs, but they all bring to that common experience their different histories, values, personalities, and concerns. The mugs were designed to function as a creative outlet with compositional lines that promote the user write on them. From this initial point of contact, the mugs and participants will scatter into their different lives.

After two weeks of use, participants will give their mugs to someone else. This could be anyone. There are only three expectations:
  • First, the participants must compose a short oral history relating a personal story that in some way involves the mug;
  • Second, participants will photograph themselves with their personalized mugs. These oral histories and photographs will be submitted as documentation of the project and will create a catalogue for the exhibition; 
  • Third, the participants will give their mugs to someone else and will request that the new owners use the mug for a while, write a new message on the mug, and then give it to someone new. The mugs may continue to travel, but they don't know where or with whom.  
Pretty cool, eh?!?

To find out more, please log on to: http://potentobjects.wordpress.com/

This project was made possible with generous support from Clemson University's College of Architecture, Arts, and Humanities Graduate Student Research Award fund.


and the 

Art Department
Clemson University


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