By: Kate Fisher (Cup Library Advisor)
The aim of the Ron Gallas Cup Library is to make handmade ceramic cups more accessible to the St. Olaf community and, in doing so; build an appreciation for and awareness of the tradition of handmade functional pottery through tactile observation.
Minnesota is home to a rich tradition and community of ceramic artists. To them, using handmade objects is an essential way to communicate and learn from one another. While this clay hot bed exists locally, citizens often overlook the global significance of this culture because they are unfamiliar with influential clay practices in the United States.
Ron Gallas, a student of Warren MacKenzie’s and himself a Minnesota native, has long been a link to the regional ceramic legacies and community. For Ron, cups are a form of currency. He has always expressed his appreciation, gratitudes, and regrets, by placing a cup he made into another’s hand. It is because of this generous quality he possesses that the cup library will be named after Ron. It will honor his legacy and commitment to ceramics at St. Olaf College.
The modern age is slowly disintegrating the connection we have to quality handmade objects for daily life. We find that many students have never used a handmade cup. They cannot remember the last time a cup enhanced their drinking experience and made them more aware or attentive to what and how they are consuming. As well, many students are also unable to name a historically significant or contemporary ceramic artist.
How Does it Work?
The Ron Gallas Cup Library is a lending library of handmade ceramic cups. Launched through a CURI project in the summer of 2015, the cup library is open to the campus every Friday afternoon (during the academic year).
Current students, faculty and staff may check out a cup of their choosing to use for 7 days. Upon check-out your cup will be placed in a soft-sided lunch bag for transportation during the loan period. A bio card about the artist is included with each cup. Faculty/Staff are also eligible to check out a suite of cups for meetings. Suit reservations require a 24 hour advance notice via email.