Exhibiting Historical Art: Out of the Vault: Stories of People and Things


Lenore Vanderkooi created this ceramic water carrier vase adorned with bamboo in 1996. Vanderkooi, a ceramics expert based here in Nashville, Tennessee, has a special affiliation with Vanderbilt, having spent three years studying ceramics education at Peabody. When she finished her education in 1975, she opened a studio in a building behind her home. This ceramic water carrier was created in Vanderkooi's studio, and has remained here in Nashville for about twenty years.

Vanderkooi’s intention for this pot, along with her other vessels, is for it to be used in daily rituals, particularly rituals involving food and flowers. Although this pot was intended for holding food or flowers in someone’s home, it could also be used for carrying water. In ancient Japanese culture, water carriers balanced two water buckets on a long pole over their shoulders. Collecting water was one of many day-to-day activities and rituals that were integral to the society’s survival. The water carrier demonstrates the need for simple rituals in a society that is becoming increasingly complicated.
The water carrier originated from a gray lump of clay. Vanderkooi sat over the potter’s wheel, shaping it, adding water and pumping the pedal with her foot until it was absolutely perfect. After she fired it in the kiln, she decorated it by hand, using intricate and precise movements. She works without an assistant, so that the water carrier creates a special connection between the potter, the earth and the owner of the piece, a concept that is particularly valuable in today’s increasingly fragmented society.

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