Iowan artist Mitchell Spain has created an absolutely ingenious line of handmade flasks, ceramic mugs, and shot glasses that look just like the old school rusty cans, some of which perhaps once held some environmentally harmful product. Each flask sports a silicone seal inside the cap, thus making it fully functional and liquid-tight. The mugs are cleverly fitted with a ceramic handle shaped like a bottle opener. Spain states on his website that he’s well aware of the irony in crafting safe drinking containers in a vessel that appears to be rusty, but it’s also the point he’s trying to make.
Our ability as humans to consciously review our faults to prevent future mistakes is invaluable. So often, however, these former follies are disregarded. With my work, I explore my personal connection with the physical and social world in which I exist, utilizing imagery from the past to form an understanding of the present. Using trompe l’oeil techniques in ceramics, I mask porcelain in a façade of rusty vessels, choosing to mimic forms that often hold strong stigmas in terms of their environmental impact. In turn, this creates a satirical element in that the contents are known to be harmful to humans and the environment, yet are containers created for function, specifically ingestion. Through this exploration of material and imagery I navigate the relationship of humanity and earth; most notably the uncertainty of the future if we continue our paths of destruction through careless consumption of resources and reckless regard for the environment.
A variety of these clever creations are available for purchase through Spain’s Etsy Store.