With much thought over the past weeks I have chose a few ideas of mine to make a query to the White House. Many proposals to sell items are sent to the White House and this one may not resonate with them or may not be read at all. So whether or not this gets a response, I am going to pursue these ideas in a small limited way.
The query letter:
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Ave NW
Washington DC 20500
June 26, 2009
Dear Mrs. First Lady Michelle Obama,
Regarding: children’s drawings transferred to ceramic art for creating trust in the world
The moment will suddenly happen when there is an opening with our foe and their nuclear threats will be seen for what they are. In the awkward moments when new beginnings for building trust are possible, a gesture beyond words will be right. A gift of a rare vase would honor the best outcome of Persia, Northern Iraq and Korea’s prehistory – the places where ceramic technology began. All will recognize the futility of the other outcome of ceramics as a shell for weapons. On the vases will be children’s drawings of what is most precious to them like their family or cracker or what they come up with.
The children’s images would be representative samples from our whole nation. All the images could be placed on a web site for all to see. The vases could be on public view giving grace to the White House. Recognition of children’s art from their heart will empower them while reminding the world what is important is what we all have in common.
For further information please look at my blog. I have posted a time line on ceramics as symbols that brought about social changes. Ceramics implemented social structures allowing humane values to win over suppression. Also my blog has links to artists and website builders in the Corvallis, Oregon area. I will be honored to work in any way I am able on the Children’s Ceramic Project.
Diane Widler Wenzel
An outline not included in the letter on the history of vases in diplomacy:
Prehistory leaves us no records of negotiations between leaders and foreign encounters but we know that before 6,000 BC there were pottery vessels made in Korea. During the same time period in Northern Iraq and the Eastern Coast of Arabia the Halaf culture made female ceramic figures and invented the tournette – a hand operated turn table for making ceramic pots. They traded their pottery and spread their technology leading to the invention of the foot run potter’s wheel. Production pottery vases with female curves replaced human sacrifice in the history of ceramics and social structures. Briefly below is a historic time table of artist / leader collaborations:
221 -206 BC Qin ceramists worked with a brutal totalitarian monarch to make a Terra Cotta Army to replace the sacrifice of humans and animals to be buried in his tomb.
206 BC – 220 AD during the Han dynasty potters leveled the gap between the powerful rulers and the poor by creating equality in death. Pottery vessels were plentiful enough for all so everyone’s bones could be transported in a vessel to the afterlife.
600 AD Kaolin clays and high temperature firing made possible water tight ceramics but the collaboration between artists and leaders did not immediately result. The Tibetan Empire building stretched from the boarders of Afghanistan, Nepal, Burma, Northern India and parts of China. The Imperial Tibetan ruler exchanged wives in a misguided attempt to seal trust between principal leaders of in his Empire. This trade of wives meant treating women like so much property. When the Dalai Lama tried to visit the Tang Emperor, the Emperor would not give him a respectful audience. Instead he tried to give the Dalai Lama half of a golden fish and said come back another time with his half of the fish to marry it with the other half to be received in dignity. Gift refused.
About 1,000 years after the invention of high temperature firings, in 1642 The Great Fifth Dalai Lama collaborated with a potter to make two sealed vases containing holy water. Instead of offering an exchange of wives the Dalai Lama offered the vases to remind the Manchu Emperor of their historic religious bonds. The emperor always kept the vases near his side taking them wherever he traveled. The Manchu once a subject of the Tibetan Empire, acknowledged their common bond by placing Buddhist symbols on Imperial ceramics. Imperial potters retained their own expression of the Taoist principle of bringing together opposites by bringing together divergent and competitive cultures in a symbol of harmony.
In 1945 Chinese Mille Fleures vases with all the symbolism of the 18th Century Imperial Vases were part of the ceremony when the first United States Naval Ship entered a Japanese harbor after World War II ended. My grandfather had recovered the dead Japanese soldiers on the battle ground of Tsing toa, and on the ones he could identify, he wrote in Japanese letters of condolence.
My grandfather kept a vase like the one in the ceremony and it has been an education to me. I have kept notes over the years listening to what might be useful in peace making. I feel my grandfather’s presence in death saying, “ Yes, you have the power to make a difference as an artist.” This is a feeling I would like my grandchildren to feel. I am buying some blank vases and will invite my children to collaborate with me. We will paint their symbols of what we hold precious adding similar symbols of divergent cultures coming together in harmony. I believe the main issue in getting people to come to talk about starting a new relationship based on mutual respect is their own low self-esteem. They feel powerless to shape their destiny. Making, giving, displaying vases gives us confidence that we with our own hands can work towards making a difference.