My mom gave me a wonderful pre-Revolution Russian book, called Gift to a Young Homemaker. It is filled with everything from how to set a table, to what to do with a freshly-caught fish, to how to make your own beer. It is written in Old Russian, first published in 1861, but a lot of it is useful even in today’s modern world. The book was banned during Soviet Russia, due to it’s pre-Revolutionary content, though my family had a copy of it, as I am sure many other homemakers did (a quiet rebellion).
Keeping Gift in mind, I created a set table inspired by my Russian summers at our family’s dacha (a country house); now showing at farm. During Soviet times, a homemaker had to be inventive, growing and preserving food, as everyday necessities were hard to come by. With all the limitations, my grandmother still set a gorgeous table, using good china, outside.
I’m not a creative cook, like my grandmother and my mom, but I can make ceramics to serve the food. The pieces I create are not meant for a specific dish, they evoke the handmade, the outdoors, the specialness of friends and family getting together in a beautiful environment.
The table-setting at farm incorporates Russian recipes scanned from Gift, English words relating to the taste of food and the emotion/experience of a family gathering, plus family slides from my childhood. By merging my two cultures, I reach out to my Russian heritage, and introduce English speakers to a little-known historical moment. The exhibit also brings together my love of ceramics with my love of typography.
All pieces are sold individually and are available through farmprojectspace.com for the rest of the summer. Email or call the gallery for a price list and shipping info.