Contemporary Craft in Focus: scoopbowl service

Artist gwendolyn yoppolo focuses on creating meaningful relationships through a shared dining experience

Media - 2021.74A-K - SAAM-2021.74A-K_1 - 143067
gwendolyn yoppolo, scoopbowl service, 2010, porcelain with matte crystalline glazes and high temperature wire, Smithsonian American Art Museum, Gift of Rebecca Anne Sive, 2021.74A-K

Artist gwendolyn yoppolo focuses on how we nourish ourselves and others within contemporary food culture through her ceramic kitchen and tableware designs. One of the concepts she explores is creating relationships through the experience of sharing a meal. Serving dishes often take center stage in a social gathering and, by creating a vessel for multiple people to eat from, she crafts an experience she describes as “True family dining.” 

Dining is a multisensory process that engages us beyond the level of physical nourishment, to ignite our senses of selfhood, relationship, ancestry, and culture.

— gwendolyn yoppolo 

The artist’s scoopbowl service encourages mindful interaction: as people share from this bowl, they also share space and each other’s attention. An opalescent glaze developed by yoppolo varies under different lights, creating ever-changing perceptions of the artwork and perhaps encouraging the same of each other.  

This Present Moment: Crafting a Better Worldmarks the 50th anniversary of SAAM’s Renwick Gallery by celebrating the dynamic landscape of American craft. The exhibition explores how artists—including Black, Latinx, Asian American, LGBTQ+, Indigenous, and women artists—have crafted spaces for daydreaming, stories of persistence, models of resilience, and methods of activism that resonate today. In order to craft a better world, it must first be imagined. This story is part of a series that takes a closer look at selected artists and artworks with material drawn from exhibition texts, the catalogue, and artists' reflections.