One of my very most favorite handmade pieces that I own is a vase just like this one by artist Marta Finkelstein. I love Marta’s and her husband Chris’s ceramic pieces very much because they often mimic nature in beautiful detail.
I met Marta when we both worked at the IU Art Museum several years ago. I worked in events and she worked in the gift shop and cafe. We were both working on our bachelor degrees and spent way too many hours in the Fine Arts buildings. I always admired her work and was excited when the gift shop manager ordered a collection of her and her then boyfriend’s work to sell, the first Bloomington artists featured in the museum gift shop! There were pendants, mugs, lamps, vases, and more! It was really neat to see one of my friend’s artwork for sale in the gift shop.
At the time, I often worked Saturday mornings a the museum, the same time as Marta. Sometimes when I had a break, I would mosey up to the gift shop and cafe, order a mocha drink, and admire the beautiful pieces for sale. It was really fun to visit her and sometimes even though I would order a large mocha, she would only charge me for a small and would throw on a little extra whipped cream! I loved to ask her questions about the pieces she created in classes for her BFA in ceramics (especially because ceramics is not my forte). I had my eye on one of the vases in the gift shop for months. I loved the portrayal of the moment of a liquid splish frozen in time. However, being a poor, part-time working, undergrad student meant that I could not really afford one. Eventually I gave up on the thought of owning one of these pieces and was just happy to get my “discounted” mochas with extra whip!
A while later, Marta and Chris finished their BFAs, got married, were admitted to MFA programs in Virginia, and were getting ready to move. To celebrate, they had a party at their place and a sale on their work they didn’t want to take with them. Many of our friends who also worked at the museum came to support the happy couple. As I admired all of the pieces they had made, I spotted a few of the “splish” vases that were up for grabs! I was so excited, I just had to have it!
I love that I was finally able to own a piece from her collection. My favorite thing is to buy a small bouquet at the Farmer’s Market to display in the “splish” case on my kitchen table. Of course the vase is special because it is handmade and I find the way it mimics the movement of water to be delightful and to compliment all sorts of flower arrangements. However, what also makes owning this piece so special is that I know the artist and I feel like I have somewhat of an understanding of her creative process. The relationships with artists and makers is one of my favorite things about all things local and handmade.