Last year, ceramics and visual artist Molly Hatch was so inspired by an article written in Selvedge Magazine about a curator at the Nordic Museum in Stockholm, Sweden who spent her entire career hand-painting a catalog of objects in the museum (pre-color photography) that she decided to embark on her own cataloging project. Yep, (with their permission, of course) Molly has been painstakingly painting the tea cup collection of the Clark Art Institute in Williamstown, Massachusetts.
I am a huge fan of Molly’s work, and when Molly told me about her endeavor, I was so inspired that I asked her to share some of it with us. In all of her work, Molly draws inspiration from beautiful, old things. She plays with the tension between historic objects and contemporary design expression through her paintings, ceramics, and design work. This latest project is a perfect example of Molly’s passion.
Amongst its vast holdings, the Clark Art Institute has a sizable collection of historic teacups. According to Molly the majority of the cups were acquired over a lifetime of collecting by the museum founders Francine and Sterling Clark. Molly challenged herself to make a small painting of 300 of the cups in the collection. “These paintings serve as an artistic response to the historic archive of the collection, an effort to view the historic collection through the eyes of a contemporary ceramic artist and designer,” she says. In creating them, her paintings become a hand-painted artistic catalog of the collection.
The cups Molly painted were originally collected by one family and are all 18th century porcelain. Molly chose these 300 because they are from the same era during which the curator in Sweden was painting her catalog.
Lucky for us, Molly’s project is being published into a book by Chronicle Books, due out in the Spring of 2015. Through the book Molly invites us to take a fresh look at antiquity through her modern and beautifully executed paintings. Molly’s paintings are complemented with an opportunity for readers to learn more about the history of the teacup through timelines and written components and an index of the original teacups in the Clark collection.The book highlights the role of collector, collection, artist, and museum.
Thank you to Molly for sharing these images with us! I will keep you posted on the release of the book and where you can purchase it.
Happiest of Tuesdays!