Media - 2020.56 - SAAM-2020.56_1 - 142992
Copied James C. Watkins, Communion, 1998, ceramic, overall: 20 14 in. × 22 in. (51.4 × 55.9 cm) weight: 58.4 lb. (26.5 kg), Smithsonian American Art Museum, Museum purchase through the Kenneth R. Trapp Acquisition Fund, 2020.56, © 1998, James Watkins

Artwork Details

overall: 20 14 in. × 22 in. (51.4 × 55.9 cm) weight: 58.4 lb. (26.5 kg)
© 1998, James Watkins
Credit Line
Museum purchase through the Kenneth R. Trapp Acquisition Fund
Mediums Description
  • Object — other — container
Object Number

Artwork Description

James Watkins shaped this double-walled ceramic cauldron from memories of his childhood on a farm in Athens, Alabama. His mother and grandmother cooked and cleaned in black cast-iron pots reminiscent of Communion. The repeating rim motif emulates the pickets of a cattle fence built by his father. Watkins has transformed a pot from an essential farm tool into an expressive reminder of shared family experiences.


This Present Moment: Crafting a Better World, 2022

Verbal Description

A massive ceramic pot with thick walls and a color like ebony — a deep, shiny black. This color was created with fired earthenware and a dark glaze. Nearly sixty pounds, this cauldron-like pot is one and half foot round and nearly two feet tall. The lower three-quarters of the outside surface has a rough texture, made up of many carved lines that create a flowing, wavy pattern like woven fabric. About three quarters of the way up, the form slightly indents and the texture changes to a smooth, shiny surface. The large rim of the pot has an open chain-like design made up of intersecting loops that lean slightly to the left. The inside of the pot is smooth, and the glaze is like a glittering bronze. At the bottom, there is a gently carved spiral. 


Quilt featuring the portrait of a woman
This Present Moment: Crafting a Better World
May 13, 2022April 2, 2023
This Present Moment: Crafting a Better World showcases the dynamic landscape of American craft today. The exhibition highlights the role that artists play in our world to spark essential conversations, stories of resilience, and methods of activism—showing us a more relational and empathetic world. It centers more expansive definitions and acknowledgments of often-overlooked histories and contributions of women, people of color, and other marginalized communities.