Gwendolyn Yoppolo transforms our perception of food and relationships by creating ceramic objects to be used in multisensory food events. Her kitchen- and table-wares tap into the physical experiences of hunger and satiation to allude to larger issues of human desire and relationship. Her visionary designs challenge us to rethink the ways we nourish ourselves and others within contemporary food culture. She earned an MFA in Ceramics from Penn State University, an MA in Education from Columbia University, and a BA in Sociology from Haverford College. A passionate educator, writer, and researcher as well as a maker, gwendolyn yoppolo is currently serving as Associate Professor of Ceramics at Kutztown University. Her writing can be found in Studio Potter, Pottery Making Illustrated, and Passion and Pedagogy
To be held in the hands or touched to the lips, these are intimate objects. The forms I make engage the threshold of subjectivity by offering a conduit for nourishment into the body or between bodies. The experience is more than visceral, as the body’s pursuit of sensual experience is tied into the process of making existence meaningful on all levels. How we choose to feed ourselves and others is connected not only to our sensations of hunger and gratification, but also to our deeper perceptions of ourselves, and of the larger stories we live by.
Making utensils enables me to dwell in the moment of appetite, where the anticipation of satiation moves the body through the world of materials towards the consumable. It is a movement driven by desire and guided by memory, by ancestry, and by our sense of self. A utensil extends the body and transforms the energy of this movement into purposeful action. The verbs of the kitchen are not only the processes of food preparation – grind, separate, mix, ream, drain, heat – they are also metaphors for our internal processes of combustion and transformation.
The moment of consumption also transcends bodily experience, invoking our senses of culture, body image, emotion, and relational identity. By making visible those layers of meaning that reside in a food event, the forms I create arouse the physical and nonphysical faculties and extend our understanding of significance. A service designed for a dining ritual can shift the perceptual horizons through which we comprehend food as nourishment, and nourishment as relationship.
The pieces I make are questions, and they remain open-ended until fulfilled through use. My work makes tangible my intentions, and aims towards the receptivity of your attention. Through a minimalist design that attracts the quiet eye and responsive touch, my forms invite you to access your own silence, listening into the echoes of my gestures to your own resonance and response.