The Decline of the Made-in-China Mug – Day 81

[Today’s featured artwork for Day 81 of the 365 Days Project is by Lee Daniels.]

"Udu Drum" by Lee Daniels.
“Udu Drum” by Lee Daniels. Photo courtesy ©Lee Daniels.

I’m trading two “Made in China” mugs for one soulful vessel for my coffee…

#81 – The Logical Brain is easily seduced by the inexpensive, but the Artist Mind will search for the spirit of a piece before committing to ownership.

I was browsing in a craft shop in New York’s Adirondack Mountains when a couple came in and asked the salesperson if he had any “Adirondack” coffee mugs created by local artists. They had spent a good part of the day checking the bottoms of mugs throughout the region, hoping to come across an artist’s signature, but finding only “Made in China,” the signature of mass production.

I knew exactly what that couple was looking for: a soulful reminder of their journey (with an emphasis on soulful.)

That spiritual simplicity is what attracted me to Lee Daniels’ work. Her hand-built ceramic vessels are raw, beautiful and refreshing – many of them are also functional. The Udu Drum, above, can be enjoyed as a work of art or played as a musical instrument. Henrietta, the sculptural piece shown at the end of this article, is actually a weed pot that can also serve as a water dropper for watercolorists and calligraphers.

“There is pleasure to be found in using simple, straightforward objects made by hand,” said Daniels, “objects that are both useful and satisfying to the human spirit. I believe that in order to balance the weight of increasing technology, there is a growing urgency for us to continue to make and use objects that express our whole being – body, mind, and spirit – in a warm, fallible, human sort of way. While mass-produced items are quite often attractive and well designed, their assembly-line perfection can leave us hungry in our search for something to satisfy the spirit.”

“Every handmade item, from the young child’s beginning efforts to the well-honed craftsmanship of the seasoned professional carries a piece of the maker’s heart and soul. Just as we are nourished by the food we eat and by the love of family and friends; we are also nourished by those things we choose to surround ourselves with.”

The beautiful simplicity of such treasures are sometimes overlooked in our fast-paced, consumer-driven culture, but there’s been a a shift in priorities. Like that couple in the Adirondack craft shop, many people are unplugging from mass-produced shopping hysteria and becoming more mindful of their purchasing choices.

And there is a world full of artists just waiting for them.

Ceramic hen by Lee Daniels.
“Henrietta” by Lee Daniels. Photo courtesy ©Lee Daniels.

Lee Daniels’ artwork can be viewed at: Lee Daniels Pottery

Description of the images included in this post:
Udu Drum
Lee Daniels, Washington
Handcrafted ceramic stoneware

Lee Daniels, Washington
Handcrafted ceramic stoneware

The 365 Days Project

In 2012, Serena Kovalosky committed to writing an article a day for 365 days as an exploration into the lives of artists and the value of creative thinking in our society.

Experience the full evolution of the project! Click below to read the entire collection of articles.

Click to view The 365 Days Project

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