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Seattle Art Museum (SAM)




An Offering: Vessels and Votives in Contemporary Ceramics

Shaping humble clay into transcendent forms fit for the divine is a tradition as old as ceramics themselves. Drawing inspiration from the ancient vernacular of forms and techniques, contemporary artists work with clay to create sculpture that, to our eyes, is both instinctively familiar and unexpectedly fresh.

Hidden within the form of an amphora, a silhouette of a woman’s head materializes in Magdalene Odundo’s Vessel. Using shapes and hues reflecting Egyptian and Greek precedents, Odundo eschews the wheel in favor of hand-building her vessels.

Polished and carbonized terracotta
21 x 12 x 12 1/2 in. (53.3 x 30.5 x 31.8 cm)
General Acquisition Fund
Provenance: The artist; [Anthony Slater-Ralph Fine Art, Santa Barbara, California]; purchased from gallery by Seattle Art Museum, Seattle, Washington, 2002
Not currently on view


Exhibition HistorySeattle, Washington, Seattle Art Museum, Art from Africa: Long Steps Never Broke a Back, Feb. 7 - May 19, 2002 (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Philadelphia Museum of Art, Oct. 2, 2004 - Jan. 2, 2005; Hartford, Connecticut, Wadsworth Atheneum, Feb. 12 - June 19, 2005; Cincinnati, Ohio, Cincinnati Art Museum, Oct. 8, 2005 - Jan. 1, 2006; Nashville, Tennessee, Frist Center for the Visual Arts, Jan. 27 - Apr. 30, 2006 [as African Art, African Voices: Long Steps Never Broke a Back]).

Tacoma, Washington, Museum of Glass, What Are You Looking At?, Sept. 26, 2021 - Jan. 22, 2023.

Seattle Art Museum respectfully acknowledges that we are on Indigenous land, the traditional territories of the Coast Salish people. We honor our ongoing connection to these communities past, present, and future.

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