ASU Art Museum Presents Ehren Tool and Erik Gronborg Ceramics Exhibition

“Statement Piece: Erik Gronborg and Ehren Tool” on view through Nov. 21 at the ASU Art Museum Brickyard

Tempe, Ariz. – This fall, the ASU Art Museum’s Ceramics Research Center will present Statement Piece: Erik Gronborg and Ehren Tool, an exhibition that brings together two socially-engaged artists from different generations. The exhibition is curated by the ASU Art Museum’s curator of ceramics, Garth Johnson, and will be on view Aug. 1 through Nov. 21, 2015 at the ASU Art Museum Brickyard, located at 7th Street and Mill Avenue in downtown Tempe.

In the 1950s, Erik Gronborg, who was born in Denmark, spent several years in a work camp for conscientious objectors before moving to the United States, where he made his mark with a series of functional pots addressing the Vietnam War. At age 83, Gronborg is still working in his studio, although he has shifted from ceramics to woodworking and maintaining an elaborate garden that he began in 1976.

ceramicEhren Tool joined the Marine Corps in the early 1990s and served in Operation Desert Storm. Upon his return, he began to study ceramics, using functional pottery as a way to explore his evolving views about military service and the human toll inflicted by warfare. Over the past decade, Tool has given away more than 14,000 handmade cups loaded with images related to the United States military. He was recently featured in an episode of the PBS program Craft in America that revolved around veterans in the arts. When asked about the function of his artwork, Tool has said, “I hope that some of these cups can be starting points for conversations about unspeakable things.”

“Gronborg and Tool have been paired for this exhibition because of similarities in their work and parallels in their personal histories,” explains Johnson. “Both artists harness the power of images pressed into wet clay. Both create approachable, functional pottery with social content built in that causes the person using the artwork to contemplate their own relationship with the U.S. Military. It is also no coincidence that Gronborg and Tool both received advanced degrees from the University of California-Berkeley.”


From Sept. 9–11, artist Ehren Tool will be in the Phoenix area, creating cups and speaking to and making art with veterans groups and the general public. The ASU Art Museum is partnering with ASU’s Office for Veteran and Military Academic Engagement and Pat Tillman Veterans Center, which seek to help veterans and their dependents pursue their educational goals, and Wings for Warriors, a nonprofit that helps wounded veterans with healthcare and financial benefits counseling and travel expenses. Further details will be made available by late August.

A reception for the exhibition will be held Friday, Sept. 11, from 6:30–8:30 p.m. (with a members, alumni and press preview from 5:30–6:30 p.m.). Tool will spend that day making cups in the gallery space at the ASU Art Museum Brickyard. Members of the public are welcome to collaborate with Tool to create their own handmade ceramic cup

All ASU Art Museum events are free and open to the public.

During the course of the exhibition, the ASU Art Museum’s Ceramics Research Center will welcome classes and groups to meet at the ASU Art Museum Brickyard for discussions over coffee and tea served from Ehren Tool’s cups. To schedule a visit, please call the ASU Art Museum Brickyard at 480.727.8170.


This exhibition is supported by The Museum of Contemporary Craft in Portland, Ore., Ron M. Werner and Scott McCoy, Dan Berman and Greg Weller, James Wallace and Julie Bergstrom, Erik Gronborg and Ehren Tool.


The ASU Art Museum, named “the single most impressive venue for contemporary art in Arizona” by Art in America magazine, is part of the Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts at Arizona State University.

To learn more about the museum, call 480.965.2787, or visit

Location/Parking: The museum has three locations across the metro Phoenix area: the ASU Art Museum at 10th Street and Mill Avenue, on ASU’s Tempe campus; the ASU Art Museum Brickyard at 7th Street and Mill Avenue, in downtown Tempe; and the ASU Art Museum International Artist Residency Program Project Space at Combine Studios, in downtown Phoenix. Designated parking is available at all three locations.

Admission: Free at all three locations.

Hours: The ASU Art Museum and ASU Art Museum Brickyard are open 11 a.m. – 5 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday. The museum is closed on Sundays and Mondays. The ASU Art Museum International Artist Residency Program Project Space in downtown Phoenix at Combine Studios has variable public hours depending on exhibition schedules and is open by appointment.

Guest Post, Adrianne Kalfopoulou: Patching the Cloth

Athens Graffiti Art

“Violence does not promote causes, neither history, nor revolution, neither progress nor reaction; but it can serve to dramatize grievances and bring them to public attention.” Hannah Arendt

“Maybe you should work against the moment,” he said to me when I spoke of writing a post that would go up on 9/11. I happened to be reading Hannah Arendt’s ON VIOLENCE.

I picked up Arendt’s essay in the midst of this summer’s dire news; bombings in Gaza; the Ebola virus; ISIS. Arendt seems especially contemporary: “Nowhere is the self-defeating factor in the victory of violence over power more evident than in the use of terror to maintain domination….” This was written in the late 60s during student take-overs in American universities and the Vietnam War. Her premise, that power and violence are opposites, that violence will turn into terror (rather than power) when “having destroyed all power” it “does not abdicate but on the contrary remains in full control.”

I was getting my American passport renewed and stood a few minutes waiting to enter the embassy in the full glare of the August sun that glanced off wide marble steps. The embassy’s newly renovated and expanded buildings spoke very clearly of power and its being “expansionist by nature.” The buildings surrounded by high barred metal fences are couched in an oasis of olive trees and nicely mowed grass knolls inside very carefully monitored gateways. As I waited inside there was a running story of Amelia Earhart on the plasma screen. That sense of expanse, of freedom dramatized too by the clips of Earhart’s pioneering voyages and courage created a stark contrast between the inner sanctum of the bordered space and the world outside of it.

I am privileged to be a dual national, but I experienced a visual split between my worlds. “Power needs no justification, being inherent in the very existence of political communities;” writes Arendt “what it does need is legitimacy.” And legitimacy is a consequence of support. She explains “the current equation of obedience and support” is “misleading and confusing.” Support is what we offer each other in recognition of our common vulnerabilities.

I live in Athens, Greece, and it has been over 4 years now of crisis-ridden moments, and tragedy too. Work against the moment. A man in the midst of August’s sweltering humidity was singing in the street, a worker whose voice rose above the drill as he sang, in Greek, I will melt for you, for you I will melt my heart… It was a sweltering day; it had been a sweltering summer.

Delphi Frieze


“Power springs up whenever people get together and act in concert, but it derives its legitimacy from the initial getting together….” I have a torn linen shirt I am fond of and want to patch, but the nature of the tear means I need a particular weave to iron against the cloth so it might blend in. Next to the post office is a fabric shop run by an elderly couple. The husband of the wife who runs it is always there; he’s had a throat operation and can’t speak though he picks out merchandise for customers. I show her the tear and she gives me a patch telling me to feel the rough side of it, to make sure to iron it so the rough side would heat against the frayed cloth. She doesn’t want any money. I want to leave her 2 euros, she vigorously shakes her head, placing the inch or two of cloth in a tiny plastic envelope and telling me again to make sure I don’t confuse the two sides of the cloth.

«Καλο Μινα» she says, “Good Month” a wish given the first of every month in Greece. It is September 1. Later that day I buy a salad at the bakery next to work, the cashier asks if I’d like bread, I point to a dark brown bun, she says, “these are good too” and adds a lighter crusted bun, saying it’s on them, maybe I’ll prefer it. “To act with deliberate speed goes against the grain of rage and violence,” Arendt writes. “The faculty of action” is for Arendt the essence of the political subject. Work against the moment…

Follow, poet, follow right
To the bottom of the night,
With your unconstraining voice
Still persuade us to rejoice;
With the farming of a verse
Make a vineyard of the curse,
Sing of human unsuccess
In a rapture of distress;
In the deserts of the heart
Let the healing fountain start,
In the prison of his days
Teach the free man how to praise.

from “In Memory of W.B. Yeats” W.H. Auden