A Seat at My Table

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    process photo
    Joanne Yao
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    process photo
    Joanne Yao
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    materials used in making
    Joanne Yao
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    process photo
    Joanne Yao
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    handmade chairs
    Joanne Yao
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    rendering of table setting
    Joanne Yao
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    deatil of rendering
    Joanne Yao
Author
Joanne Yao

At dinner, our interactions with the food, the table settings, and other diners show how we engage with the material world. Table manners and etiquette are a window into a convivial life. As a beginner potter and woodworker, I made dining furniture, dishes, and utensils, to contemplate a meaningful sense of place in the everyday. Participating in what Hannah Arendt calls the vita activa, I explore how the objects I make become tangible manifestations of the hands that touch them. The table setting forms the backdrop for dinner, framing the space, the routine, and the ritual we inhabit every day. They invite us to attend to the food and to the people we share a meal with. In doing so, we bring the forces that gather the meal to light. There are palpable traces of humidity, mineral content, and the gentle touch of the hand in the ceramics. Weather movements, disease, and growth patterns are embodied in the grain of the wood. Each object translates a microcosm to the table, welcoming diners to touch, smell, and taste the meal we share together.

Project Date
Completed