Visual Wednesday: What About the Bowl?

Urban bowl.

A post shared by Elya Simukka (@elya365) on

In a previous post reviewing June’s First Thursday event, I promised to personally interact with a bowl from a special project at the Museum of Contemporary Craft (MOCC). The current exhibit, Object Focus: The Bowl is curated by Namita Gupta Wiggers, and lasts until September 21, 2013. This special engagement with a bowl is made possible thanks to the Engage+Use side of the project which, “features contemporary project-based work that investigates the processes of making, using, and living with bowls” according to the exhibit site page. Special thanks to Ayumi Horie and Michael Strand whose organization extends the bowl lending process to both the MOCC and the Multnomah County Library. More information here.

Now, for the details on the 3 levels of involvement in the project, a brief formal description of the borrowed bowl, and lastly how I used the bowl.


Level 1 involvement includes visiting the museum and the ability to view, touch, and handle a variety of bowls on display.

Level 2 involvement in this project is simple too. You may borrow any available bowl for up to one week from the Multnomah County Library or the MOCC. Borrowers assume the cost of the bowl, should the bowl shatter to smithereens or never return to the museum, but it is otherwise free. (There are fines for returning a bowl late or damaging it slightly also.)

Level 3 involvement is simply to share the ways you used a borrowed bowl through words, pictures, or any other preferred expression in the form of a public blog moderated by the museum.

While there are many options in the bowl library, this is the bowl I chose to borrow!


Artist: Kyla Toomey

Title & Date: Button Bowl, 2013

Media: Porcelain, 3″ x 5.5″

Location: Portland, Oregon, USA at the Museum of Contemporary Craft

Formal Description

As a tabletop scale sculpture, this porcelain bowl measures 3″ by 5 1/2″. It is symmetrical when divided by a vertical axis. The interior and exterior share the same creamy, off white glaze.

The exterior is evenly punctuated by small, “nail head” scale circles that recess into the overall volume of the bowl’s exterior. From each small circle, are four lines incised at ninety degrees from one another, in a horizontal and vertical orientation. The lines echo the outward bow of the bowl into the viewer’s space.  The combined circle and line techniques lend a texture similar to upholstery buttons on tufted furniture. It is my guess that this effect is the inspiration for the title, Button Bowl.

Button Bowl‘s interior is quite close to a reverse version of the exterior’s indents and swells, although it is smoother, with no incised lines. This bumpy, but relatively smooth interior serves as a reminder of the use of this sculpture as a utilitarian object as well.

Finally, Button Bowl is glazed over the entire surface, except for the thin line where the ring of porcelain at the base meets the surface it rests upon.

Use of Button Bowl: as vase, human food bowl, and animal watering dish

A friend challenged me to use the bowl every day and use it for everything. I didn’t quite achieve this, but Button Bowl was a happy addition to many of my daily routines. I found it easy to clean, and the shape to be very agreeable to grip and eat from. Ultimately, I used it for eating some delicious homemade salads and soups, a vase for a flower arrangement, and feeding a friend’s kitty cat.

All activities included a thorough washing between each use, of course! I want to give special credit to the two clever kids who came up with the idea to feed Cocoa the cat also, as I would have never thought to do so. For the full food recipes please visit here as well. Today I returned the bowl, in one piece and paid nothing to participate in this amazing art project.

What do you think about this interactive art? Do you plan to borrow a bowl?


One thought on “Visual Wednesday: What About the Bowl?

  1. Pingback: The Bowl: When Sculpture Meets Food | E is for Eats

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