Humble drinkware the star of Trackside’s annual exhibit ‘Cup of Joy’

December 6, 2018

We all have a shelf, or maybe even an entire cabinet, cluttered with drinkware.

Coffee mugs, souvenir drink cups, glassware only brought out for special occasions, it’s all there.

And you can never seem to downsize, because each cup has a story attached to it. There’s the one with a small chip, the mug with a handle that has been glued on time and time again, the last remaining cup from a set you bought who knows how long ago.

For the fifth year, Trackside Studio Ceramic Art Gallery is paying tribute to the humble, but essential, cup in its exhibit “Cup of Joy,” which opens Friday and runs through Jan. 18.

The exhibit feature the work of more than 36 artists from across the U.S. and Canada who were invited to display more than 125 cups of all shapes, colors and forms.

Eric Van Eimeren is one of the artists participating in “Cup of Joy.” After earning his MFA from Alfred University in New York, Van Eimeren moved to Montana as a resident artist at the Archie Bray Foundation.

He currently lives and works in Helena.

“I am happiest when making useful things, and inspired by the fact that despite thousands of years of pottery making, we can still leave our studios today having created something new,” he said in a statement.

Lauren Smith, who currently calls Ulm, Montana home, echoes Van Eimeren’s goal to create useful pieces.

“I love making functional pottery,” she said in a statement. “I want to share my work and create daily rituals amongst my collectors and admirers. I am constantly fulfilled every day that I can turn a ball of clay into something that someone can treasure. As I work at my wheel, I imagine my pots being used at a fancy dinner party with cake stands and flower vases decorating the table; or perhaps a favorite mug being filled with hot, steaming coffee or warm tea.”

Artist Amanda Bury, who will be a featured artist at Trackside in April alongside Cozette Phillips, sees her work as a means to “speak further about connections and relationships between human beings and the rest of the natural world.”

“I aim to invoke discourse, thought and reflection to reframe our contemporary culture of food,” she said in a statement. “I am interested in where food intersects culture, ethics, history, ritual and community. I am continuously exploring what we choose to eat, its history and how it gets to our tables today. I am intrigued by how our relationship with food shapes the way we treat our bodies and our planet.”

Spokane’s Aubrey Purdy Rude understands the connections that grow between users and their favorite cup and sees that connection as a reminder to live in the moment.

“In the world of objects, ceramic cups hold a special place,” she said in a statement. “The handmade cup can move fluidly from the mundane to the ritual through the power of intimacy. A relationship can be cultivated through thoughtful attention and repeated use, transforming an everyday drink into a tactile experience that is as humbling as it is comforting. And it all can be gone with one crash, reminding us to cherish the moment and live in the now.”

Purdy Rude is familiar with that crash; her cat “killed” a tumbler by West Virginia-based artist Jen Allen as she was writing her statement.

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