• James C. Watkins, Communion, 1998, ceramic, Smithsonian American Art Museum, Museum purchase through the Kenneth R. Trapp Acquisition Fund, 2020.56, © 1998, James Watkins

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.  

overall: 20 14 in. × 22 in. (51.4 × 55.9 cm) weight: 58.4 lb. (26.5 kg)
Credit Line

Smithsonian American Art Museum

Museum purchase through the Kenneth R. Trapp Acquisition Fund

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