A Cup Half Full

A Cup Half Full

By Aaron Patrick Decker;  https://objektion.wordpress.com

Like the disney movie, ‘Beauty and the Beast,’ the silverware made by David Clarke animate their surroundings becoming characters on the table, actors in their surroundings. His ‘wares’ pull us into a seductive dance with silversmithing history and the present cultural connotations which continue to erode and evolve in a class system once defined and supported by tablewares. What we get from David Clarke are objects mashed up with themselves, reconfigured, stretched, crystallized, and curdled into ugly mixes – as though the artist is taking every idea, scratching it, throwing it against the wall, repeat….. resulting in final drafts of items that aren’t any longer useable, but wholly use-full.

One of the major critiques of this work is its current value in a westernized society whose class system is no longer marked by these silver objects. Once a sophisticated placeholder – Silverwares are no longer required at the table to show wealth. Their presence now serves merely as a reminder of times in history where these objects carried significant familial and emotional value. They are antique, not even yet artifacts.  So what is the use in making something such as David Clarke’s work? Is it culturally relevant?

The only reason I have come up with is ‘craft dissonance.’ This occurs when an artist takes sets of ‘antique’ signifiers and amass them together is a hyperbolic critique such as these ‘spoons.’

The funny mashup of blowing bubbles, spoons, and an egg, though illustrating an equation of elements, succeeds in knocking us on our ass.

Or this sugar bowl titled ‘Sweetheart.’ A collaborative project between David Clarke and Natalie Smith. A saccharin nod, a one line, a beautiful object whose function is truly subverted, then reapplied like paint on a wall.

Is it important that we understand these objects complete history, craft and all? No..

In fact it is that ignorance that opens the door for silverware to become relevant once more. The concentration is taken off the didactic history of silverware, and with irreverence, Clarke allows us a reconfigure our understanding into playful, yet fully conceived art objects. Though a silversmith, Clarke subverts his tradition, flips it, and reverses – see MISSY ELLIOT. 

Although this is lighthearted, I wish there was more space to truly break down every object, piece by piece. However, like David Clarkes self-aware objects, there is too much, compacted, complicated, and wholly critical to completely contain in one object – so it’s best to allow entry points that are cheeky, and irreverent.  In doing so, David Clarke honors a tradition by breaking away from it.


More of Davids work can be found at https://misterclarke.wordpress.com, and a series of cups will be on exhibition during this years Collective Design Fair, NY, in Ornamentum Gallery’s booth.


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