In our present day world a vase alone cannot magically save us from nuclear extinction. In prehistoric times clay vessels did save lives. A rounded clay vessel was technology which was so miraculous that it could be seen as magic. Dust mixed with water and shaped into a pot could be transformed by fire into a hardened vessel that holds water vital to life. Rounded clay vessels were associated with the continuation of life because they were round and full like a healthy pregnant woman.
In a previous post to this blog I outlined briefly the history of the use of clay vessels as a symbol that changed the way we treated one another. Other art forms like books, carpets, and paintings have symbolic histories as well that have brought about changes in social interactions between differing and competitive peoples. I do agree about their vital rolls in our history. The vase I purpose has some unique symbolism that might be useful as a tool to educate the giver being The United States at the same time as giving the receiver a sense of equality and shared responsibility.
Antonia Acock’s Red Cedar porcelain vase could have a particular relevance to our relationship to third world countries who we see as nuclear threats. Her vase was painted to commemorate the thirty acres of red cedar forest clear cut on the Oregon coastal range during the Bush administration trying to keep the economy going at all costs to our resources sustaining life when we were waging war against a supposed nuclear threat of Iraq. Acock wanted to commemorate the little contested loss of a treasure valued by her Native American ancestors. She knows it is important to paint on archival porcelain that will outlast fiber and even hot fires.
The symbolism in the Red Cedar vase could encompass more than her sensitive use of the materials. New symbolism could be added to all the other points in history where societies became more civil such as replacing human and animal sacrifices with pottery vessels. New symbolism could be added to bring about equality of rich and poor like when pots were first used in death rituals. Other grand purposes could be added to women’s rights like when vases instead of trading wives was a ritual of observing equality between nations.
The shape of porcelain vases like the Red Cedar vase symbolizes life universally understood. To me the vase also symbolizes our shame and fear. The vase reminds me of the ceramic shell of the Atomic bombs unnecessarily dropped on innocent civilians in Japan after what could have been the end of the war. The vase’s shape is our humiliating past and symbolizes our fear that other nations will be equally irresponsible. Our arrogance that we can police the world in preventing nuclear energy’s misuse is not sustainable. We will not have red cedar forests anymore to sustain us.
On the positive side of giving a vase of Red Cedars as a gift to begin real talks with competitive nations is that we can say we all have failings and we can start to work together as equals.