Like most potters I know, my home is filled with pots. They fill cupboards, hang on walls, and adorn most flat surfaces: countertops, coffee tables, bookshelves, or nightstands. Arguably, especially if my wife is making the argument, we have too many. At least, we have far too many to feasibly use. We have three cup walls and a bookshelf filled with pots that see semi-annual use at best. Of course, I enjoy having all these objects around. If I didn't, I would have long since stopped collecting cups. For a household of two, twelve or so mugs and as many drinking cups would be enough. The sixty-plus cups we have are, from a purely utilitarian standpoint, excessive. That's before we even discuss the objects I have no intention of using: teapots, jars, and platters. How, then, do I justify all this conspicuous aesthetic consumption? Especially as someone who, not so long ago, fought passionately to make objects of use for his MFA thesis and who rejected sculpture as "stuff that just sits around."

The answer lies, for me, in the unique role that utilitarian objects play in making a home feel like a home. The nature of pots in use – in action – creates so much in the world of studio pottery. Rightfully so, I might add. Endless exposition could be laid down about the way a beautiful bowl or cup enhances the act of eating or drinking. Less is said of what to make of pots at rest. I propose that pots at rest are still engaged in a unique passive utility by defining and enriching how we experience our domestic space. Informed by concepts from early twentieth-century art and design, such as Gesamtkunstwerk, I would like to explore how pots bring personality, meaning, and engagement to our homes.

Gesamtkunstwerk, or the "total work of art," is a concept that imagines the arts as a single integrated work of aesthetic expression. Originally articulated by the composer Richard Wagner, it sees its first application to the crafts and to domestic space in the works of John Ruskin and William Morris, central figures in the Arts and Crafts movement. Perhaps its most famous proponents were thinkers from the Bauhaus like Walter Gropius, who restated the concept as "total design," but echoes of the concept can also be felt in the writings of Mingei and Studio Pottery. It is conceived of in slightly different terms wherever it is evoked, but the through line regarding the crafts is that the home is the final and most comprehensive site of aesthetic experience.