Materials Lab Workshop: Animal-Shaped Vessels


Saturday, September 22, 2018, 10:00am to 1:00pm


Harvard Art Museums, 32 Quincy Street

This two-part workshop series allows participants to experience firsthand the tradition of making ceramic drinking vessels similar to the ancient Greek vessels featured in our special exhibition Animal-Shaped Vessels from the Ancient World: Feasting with Gods, Heroes, and Kings.

The exhibition brings together nearly 60 elaborate vessels of animal shape and offers a glimpse into the rich symbolism and communal practices that found expression at the gatherings in which they were used. Presenting a cross-cultural and cross-disciplinary examination of these objects, the exhibition vividly illustrates how shapes, ideas, and artistic forms and conventions have traveled across three continents and over three millennia. In this two-part workshop series, participants will continue the tradition of animal-shaped vessels by making one of their own.

Session 1
Saturday, September 22 

Participants will examine a selection of ancient vessels in the exhibition galleries with Susanne Ebbinghaus, the George M.A. Hanfmann Curator of Ancient Art and head of the Division of Asian and Mediterranean Art at the Harvard Art Museums. Kathy King, director of education at the Harvard Ceramics Program, will join the group in the Materials Lab and demonstrate how to form a vessel in the style of a Greek animal head mug, by combining press-molded bodies, necks thrown on the wheel, and free-formed handles. Participants will then have the chance to mold and refine their own drinking vessel.

Session 2
Saturday, September 29

After the vessels have dried and been fired, participants will return for a second session to view and discuss the spectacular painting techniques potters used on Greek animal head mugs and other pottery from ancient Athens. They will also learn about modern attempts to re-create these surface decorations. Workshop attendees will then decorate their own bisque-fired vessels with clay slips.

Both sessions, on September 22 and September 29, will be held in the Materials Lab, Lower Level.

$30 materials fee includes both sessions. Participants must commit to both (Session 1 on Saturday, September 22 and Session 2 on Saturday, September 29). Registration is required and space is limited. Materials fee must be paid to confirm registration. Please email, stop by the museums’ admissions desk, or call 617-495-1440 to register. Minimum age of 14.

Support for this program—as well as crucial support for the Animal-Shaped Vessels exhibition—has been provided by the National Endowment for the Humanities: Exploring the Human Endeavor. In addition, the Harvard Art Museums are deeply grateful to the anonymous donor of a gift in memory of Melvin R. Seiden and to Malcolm H. Wiener (Harvard A.B. ’57, J.D. ’63) and Michael and Helen Lehmann for enabling us to mount this exhibition and to pursue the related research. This work was also made possible in part by the David M. Robinson Fund; the Andrew W. Mellon Publication Funds, including the Henry P. McIlhenny Fund; and the M. Victor Leventritt Fund, which brings outstanding scholars of the history and theory of art to the Harvard and Greater Boston communities through the generosity of the wife, children, and friends of the late M. Victor Leventritt, Harvard Class of 1935.

Share your experience of this program and the exhibition via social media with the hashtag #partyanimals, and tag us with #HarvardArtMuseums.