Trading Earth: Ceramics, Commodities, and Commerce
Drawing on centuries of works from across the Americas, Asia, Europe, and Africa, this exhibition focuses on global trade and ceramic objects made to store, serve, or consume staples and luxury commodities grown in soil or extracted from the earth. Foodstuffs such as tea, sugar, coffee, and spices, along with tobacco and alcohol, were marketed via vast international trade routes, resulting in the creation, dissemination, appropriation, and refinement of ceramic technique, form, and ornament, with accompanying objects from materials such as silver. The cycles of cultivation, production, trade, and consumption revealed across more than 200 works also illustrate global systems of oppression and privilege, including reliance on enslaved and other exploitative labor and lasting damage to communities and the natural world.
Elizabeth A. Williams, PhD David and Peggy Rockefeller Curator of Decorative Arts and Design
RISD Museum is supported by a grant from the Rhode Island State Council on the Arts, through an appropriation by the Rhode Island General Assembly and a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts, and with the generous partnership of the Rhode Island School of Design, its Board of Trustees, and Museum Governors.
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