Jim Weber can’t imagine a world without bowls, and he’s spent his life creating them to make sure they remain.
Weber’s love of bowls will be highlighted in his exhibition, “Bowls: Imagine Life Without Bowls,” May 4 through 29 in Gallery III at the Artists Collective | Spartanburg.
“Bowls would have been the first of utilitarian vessel forms,” says the artist, a native of Greenville, S.C. “Everybody uses bowls, from the poorest ‘disposable’ tea-bowl to the most elegantly displayed tureen. Life as we know it would not function without the simple bowl.”
Weber has been a full-time potter most of his life; 2021 is the 50th year of his making the vessels from clay.
Visitors to the exhibit will see bowls of varying shapes and sizes of decorative and functional purposes. “The tens of thousands I’ve made before these have a major part in the making of these that will be on display.” Those in the exhibit will be available for purchase, ranging in price from $10 to $200 or more.
Weber was inspired to do the exhibit because “I’m good at making bowls. I have spent the most time at my wheel, making bowls, these past 50 years. Bowls are the first firings of basically every beginning pottery student. Bowls can connect a lot of visual space, and so, are a very practical means of decorating large modern rooms in home or office.”
As a young child, Weber watched local potters demonstrate their skills at a local arts festival. “The community would have to survive with one less fireman or policeman or doctor or whatever. I wanted to be a potter.
“My pots are for the most part vessels,” he adds. “The potters of my earliest memories made traditional, utilitarian sorts of pots. Those influences shaped me into the potter I am today as surely as I shape my own work. Function, form and color are my primary considerations when potting. I rarely embellish or sculpt artistic designs as an act of creative composition. I use clay more as a building material than as a canvas on which to paint – less artist, more engineer.”
Weber says the trend in pottery today seems to lean heavily toward objects of art that happen to be made of clay with increasingly less emphasis on traditional utilitarian forms. “While I celebrate the former, I regret the loss of the latter,” he says.
The bowls in the exhibit are “a continuing refinement of the same forms I’ve made my entire life, with their origin all linked by the main qualities – function, form and color. I expect these pots will be some of the best work I’ve ever done. I hope so.”
His work often has been described as “‘pretty’ and ‘so functional,’ and every so often ‘well-made.’ Sometimes all of the above,” he says. “It is always gratifying and sometimes, even humbling.”
Weber, who has been a member of the Artists Collective | Spartanburg since 2019, says that during his lifetime of making and selling pottery, “I’ve been to many different towns and cities that all had some local, obvious extension of the artist community within. I’d never seen the like until I first walked in the doors of ACS.”