Amanda Barr, Too Much to Handle (Don’t Let Them See Your Scars) Épergne
Too Much to Handle (Don’t Let Them See Your Scars) Épergne
Porcelain, kaolin wire, inlay, wash
Bowl measures 9" in diameter and 2 3/4" tall
Compote measures 4.5" in diameter and 6" tall
Overall 9" diameter and 8" tall
Lately I’ve been fascinated by 17th century Dutch vanitas paintings. Symbolic works, they showed the transience of life, futility of pleasure, and the certainty of death through symbols of wealth alongside symbols of ephemerality and death. Frequently, lemons were used to represent all three; lemons and other citrus fruits grew in cultivated gardens of the wealthy class. A peeled lemon, like life, was attractive to look at but bitter to taste, and would quickly rot. They weren’t meant to be paintings of beauty and virtue, but to remind the viewer of their own mortality and remind them that in death, we are all of a kind.
Today, lemons have a similarly complicated symbolism. Lemon prints and patterns are seemingly everywhere, as is the color, bright and cheery. At the same time, “lemon laws” are on the books to protect consumers from unreliable purchases. Among this contrast stands the aphorism, “If life hands you lemons, make lemonade,” one of the many trite clichés those who experience disability or hardship will hear over and over in their lives. We’re meant to find the silver lining in everything, to “suck it up, no one likes a sourpuss;” to appear sweet even if we
Sometimes you can’t make lemonade. Sometimes your lemons are rotten, or you don’t have sugar, or water to make the lemonade anything more than a bitter pulp. My work explores the idea that life does not need to be “lemonade:” that the fractures, flaws, and places where we are falling apart do not need to be sweetened or made beautiful to be acceptable.
Amanda Barr is an artist, author, and educator currently working on her MFA in ceramics/MA in Art History at the University of Montana in Missoula. A habitual nomad, she has lived in six states and four countries in the past 15 years; most recently she enjoyed several years in Seattle.
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