Our bowl has taken its place on the mantelpiece in our living room. So to some extent we’ve treated it as an objet d’art. We’ve focused on its beauty and we’ve placed it in the context of other treasured art works that mean a great deal to us.
But there’s more to it than that.
As people of Christian (and specifically Catholic) faith, many of the works on the mantelpiece and the large painting above it also serve as something of a household shrine. The painting is a polyptych by the acclaimed, Brooklyn-based sem-abstract painter, Alfonse Borysewicz. It is a painting of the Annunciation, the moment when the angel Gabriel told the Virgin Mary that she would conceive the Christ child.
To the right of Patra 85 is “Rosefire,” a triptych painted by Tacoma-based artist Melissa Weinman. It’s an allusion to the end of T.S. Eliot’s “Four Quartets,” when he speak of the fire and the rose being “one.” There are references to Dante and more in this passage, from a poem that has also meant a lot to my wife and myself.
So for us Patra 85 took its place in a setting of both beauty and faith — and it seemed to fit in perfectly, making music with the works around it.
In the history of Western art, gold has been a symbol of divinity and eternity, so we’ve always had Patra 85 angled in such a way that we can see inside it. The sense of the bowl being a receptacle, a place to capture and keep meaning, has spoken to us.
And that fits perfectly with the Patra bowl’s historical origin in the “begging bowl.” All of us have deep needs built into our human nature. Each of us must beg to be filled. We’re hungry and need to eat.
Whenever we have the experience of being filled, we call that “grace” — at least in our family!
The surface of Patra 85 contains a series of markings that look like both writing and mathematical equations. To us this represented the heritage of the arts and sciences, which live at the core of a civilization.
The fact that we can’t make out specific words or equations helps prevent us from trying to “solve” or “decode” the bowl — it enables the piece to retain an aura of mystery, of pointing beyond itself. And that has been deeply satisfying to us.
One aspect of Patra 85 that has intrigued us is the seam that runs along the side of us, so that the top is not even. It’s as if the bowl was made by connecting up these edges. For one thing, this gives the eye something beyond boring symmetry to look at, but it seems to hint at more. That life doesn’t always line up neatly? That we need to make an effort to connect things in order to understand the world more fully?
Whatever the intent behind this feature, it’s been one of the delights of having Patra 85 in our home.
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