Dear Friends and Visitors to the site,,,,,,,,While the gallery exhibition of "A Father's Kaddish" ended on October 8, 2015, the online presentation will remain indefinitely. There will be periodic updates as "A Father's Kaddish" and the journey of the Kaddish Chawan continues to live on ,,,,,,

Please scroll to the bottom of the page as updates to the site will appear there in the order in which they emerge and come to be. Thank you so much for visiting,,,,,

EXHIBTION

SEPTEMBER 9th -OCTOBER 8th

THAYER ACADEMY GALLERY

745 Washington Street

Braintree, Massachusetts 02184

GALLERY HOURS

Open 8am-5pm

when school is in session

other times by appointment

617.447.3500

 

 

Kaddish Chawan #365/365

See below to read the poster titled "A Legacy"

LANDSCAPE VESSEL

Glazing my Kaddish Chawan was a solitary and singular practice. I glazed them and nothing else at the same time. There were no other pots on the table and I thought of nothing else.  The firing was the same.  I fired only the Kaddish Chawan in one week groupings, seven chawan in each firing.

When I was glazing the last few chawan my thoughts traveled to places that we had visited as a family, especially those places that we visited on our family cyclotouring trips. These were special times together; on our own, on our bicycles, unsupported, exposed.  I speak to friends about these trips often.  Spontaneously, images of the beautiful landscapes that we rode through here in the US, Canada and Denmark played across my mind, and a vessel waiting to be glazed and fired, presented itself. This Landscape Vessel is the only piece that I glazed and fired in concert with my Kaddish Chawan. 

900. SOLD

THE YELLOW TAGS

All of these chawan, and all of my chawan, are thrown on the potters wheel using a method called "throwing off the hump."  It is a technique whereby a large piece of clay, 15-20 pounds, is put on the wheel, it is shaped into a tall cone and small pieces are made successively off the top and cut off.  The bottoms or "foot" of pieces made this way must be trimmed by placing them upside down only after they have hardened sufficiently.  Because of this method, the work cannot be signed or otherwise labeled until the trimming has taken place.

In order to preserve the daily order of the making of my Kaddish Chawan, I wrote the number of the piece on these yellow notes and placed them inside each bowl as I made them.

Just as I have asked you to experience the exhibition as closely as I made the journey, these yellow tags also chronicle my daily Kaddish.

SIT WITH ME

Unlike reciting Kaddish in shul which must be done in the presence of ten adults, my personal Kaddish was solitary.  I made each tea bowl in the quiet and privacy of my studio when there was no one else around. The practice was meditative and contemplative.  There were a few occasions during the year when I intentionally invited a friend to be there with me as an observer to share the few minutes that it took to make the bowl.

These individual Kaddish Chawan are labeled as such.

Rabbi Keith Stern, a dear friend of ours and a very important friend to Jared, was so moved by the exhibition and being in the presence of the 365 Kaddish Chawan that he crafted his 2015 Yom Kippur concluding sermon framing the experience and expression of Mourners Kaddish, grief, and remembrance around “A Father’s Kaddish.” Listen to his talk here.

My Year Of Kaddish

All of the Kaddish Chawan are numbered 1-365 and dated

Hover over the image to preview its number, date and status  as NFS, or SOLD. Click the image for a larger view and to see it's number and date.

All Kaddish Chawans are for sale unless marked NFS. To make a purchase, email Steven Branfman at Sbranfpots@aol.com. Include the number(s) of the chawan and your complete contact information; name, phone, email, snail mail. You may also call Steven at 617 447 3500.

A Father's Kaddish, the film

Update; March 2017

During the final week of the exhibition, I was approached by documentary filmmaker Jen Kaplan who had heard about the show. She was so moved by what she saw, she approached me about making a documentary film about the exhibition and the ten years that brought me to that place. As of this date, a trailer has been made, the filming is complete and the editing has begun. The plan is to complete the film in the late spring and debut it at the Boston Jewish Film Festival in November. 

Here is the 4 minute trailer

If you would like to participate in bringing  “A Father’s Kaddish” to life on film, you may make a tax deductible donation here: https://secure.donationpay.org/documentaries/film_no_stats.php?f=kaddish

With heartfelt thanks....

Update; October 2017

In 2015, shortly after the closing of “A Father’s Kaddish,” I was contacted by Bonnie Kemske, clay artist, writer and chanoyu (Japanese tea ceremony) practitioner. She had become aware of my devotion to the chawan and the exhibition of my 365 Kaddish Chawan’s. Bonnie was assembling stories and images for a new book, The Teabowl: East and West and asked me if she could include my Kaddish Chawan’s in the book. The Teabowl: East and West was published this fall.

Excerpt from The Teabowl: East and West, BloomsburyPress, page 122-123

A response to our world

Among Tea practitioners the teabowl is not seen as the most important utensil. Usually that role is held by the scroll, followed by the tea caddies (chaire and natsume), then the tea scoop (chashaku), and finally the teabowl. However, the teabowl is the object imbued with the greatest intimacy between host and guest. It is held in both hands and touched to the lips; it is experienced as much through its tactile qualities as through its appearance. It is the physical link between host, guests and even the potter.

It is this inherent personal quality that has drawn many ceramicists to the chawan and led to its iconic status. Some potters have responded to tragedies in their lives through the teabowl. During the year following his son’s death, Steven Branfman (US) created a teabowl each day (figure 81). ‘For a year they were the only pots I made. One chawan each day no matter where I was. My wife Ellen, son Adam, and I, together in Shul, said Kaddish [the Jewish mourning ritual] every day for a year. My daily chawan making at my wheel was my own personal Kaddish. Ten years later Branfman exhibited the teabowls in a powerful exhibition titled A Father’s Kaddish: The Celebration of (a) Life in the Aftermath of Death.


[Figure 81: Steven Branfman, installation photo with Kaddish Chawan 235/365, May 19, Jared’s Birthday in foreground. Thrown 2005; glazed and fired 2015. Wheel-thrown stoneware with brushed raku and commercial low-fire glaze, raku fired, 7.6 × 10.1 cm. Photo by Nicki Pardo Photography

Update; November 2017

Coinciding with the publishing of The Teabowl: East and West , the Leach Pottery Museum in St. Ives, England, mounted an exhibition “The Teabowl: Past & Present” in which my work is included.

From The Leach Museum:

This Museum exhibition tells the story of the teabowl, a highly valued ceramic form closely linked with Japan and becoming increasingly popular in contemporary Western ceramics. The exhibition will present 55 examples of teabowls, including historic teabowls from the East, teabowls made in the West in the spirit of tradition, and teabowls made with a sense of subversion.

Curated by artist and writer Dr Bonnie Kemske, and Dr Matthew Tyas of the Leach Pottery, the exhibition will also tell the history of the teabowl, as it arose in the East through use in chanoyu, or Japanese tea ceremony, and its journey to the West. Outside of Japan, many potters have venerated traditional teabowl techniques and aesthetics, while some have chosen to subvert and challenge its deep cultural legacy.

The leach Museum