I could not quite envision the installation of Mark Hewitt’s 12 gleaming sculptural pots before it came together.
By Thursday, I was a believer.
At 150-200 pounds each and born from a “kiln the size of a school bus,” the vases are not lost on the museum’s vast lawn. They loom impressively around the Nasher Museum Cafe in a semi-circle like Egyptian urns protecting a tomb.
At 2 p.m. on Thursday the main lunch crowd was gone; it was just me, Hewitt and the first two bold vases occupying the lawn. The museum’s prep crew was working hard to prepare the other vases for their journey to the lawn.
“I hope that one didn’t topple over,” I said, pointing to a vase lying on its side on the grass.
“No, it’s just sleeping,” Mark responded, winking.
Hewitt’s personification of the vase sparked intrigue; suddenly it was clear to me that unique personalities are bottled up underneath the gleaming lids of each pot.
“What’s its name?” I prodded further.
“Unfulfilled Fetish,” he said.
Mark explained the reference to African art and pointed out strokes on the pot that look like peacock feathers, and details like little brass nipples. This is a particularly brazen pot. Others like “Sleeper” have more modest histories. “Sleeper” hid in the back of Mark’s workshop for months, he told me.
As the afternoon progressed, each unique piece was wheeled out, wrapped in blankets and secured in bungee cords. The crew then unleashed each christened pot to join its brothers gathered on the lawn.
Hewitt’s website claims that his MO is “functional” pottery, but this installation takes on a life far exceeding that of just any potted plants.
The Nasher Museum’s chief preparator, Brad Johnson, pointed out, “We could use the pots to tell time!”
“Four pots past the yard arm–time for a drink!” Mark answered with a smile.
Behind them, pots named ‘That’s What I’m Talking About’ and ‘Bad Seed’ cast afternoon shadows.
Watch each day’s progress here.
Danielle Garver is a senior public policy major at Duke.
IMAGE: A ghost-like image of the Nasher Museum building is reflected in one of Mark Hewitt’s large ceramic pots. Photo by Dr. J Caldwell.