Disposable plastic cups notwithstanding, a cup has historically been defined as a bowl-shaped vessel for drinking, usually outfitted with a handle. While a cup can have social or cultural functions beyond use, such as a trophy or a vessel used within religious ceremonies, its primary historical role has been functional—as a container of liquid. Cups, made of a variety of materials, have been unearthed in archaeological digs throughout the world.
Unlike the teapot, whose functionality and meaning has been challenged or reframed repeatedly, the cup has not been the source of as many philosophical investigations within the field of contemporary craft. This does not mean it has been marginalized or avoided. In fact, handmade cups are ever popular as serving ware and the cup as a subject continues to be an organizing theme for numerous exhibitions in galleries and museums.
Contemporary makers, balancing the traditions of the past with those of the present, create cups that reflect their style and their interests. Drawn from RAM’s collection, this exhibition—with works made of clay, glass, and metal—features contemporary iterations of cup forms, sometimes as multiples within a set. Mugs and goblets are included to offer contrasts and comparisons. There are also examples by those who play with the idea of a cup as a symbolic or metaphoric vessel.
Artists in the Exhibition
Wesley Anderegg, Robert Arneson, Karl F. Borgeson, Cynthia Bringle, Karen Buhler, Alan Caiger-Smith, Nadeige Choplet, Oliver Doriss, Jack Earl, Lea Embree, Willem Gebben, Katherine Gray, Erik Gronborg, Jon Groth, Melanie Guernsey-Leppla, Dorothy Hafner, Steven Hill, Martha A. Holt, Margaret Ponce Israel, Geo Lastomirsky, Leach Pottery, Zachery Lechtenberg, Robert Levin, Paul Mathieu, Richard Milette, Ron Nagle, Matt Nolen, Donovan Palmquist, Ken Price, Douglass Rankin, ROY, Will Ruggles, Judith Salomon, Michael J. Schunke, Yoko Sekino-Bové, Andy Shaw, Peter Shire, Anna Silver, Judith Strong, Toshiko Takaezu, Akio Takamori, Rosalyn Tyge, Kurt Wallstab, Patti Warashina, Kurt Weiser, John Whitney, and Irina Zaytceva