Innovating the dinner table with sexy place settings

In the world of tableware, it would appear there's little room for innovation.

For instance a plate can be given corners, or different colors or patterns, but in its essence it's a flat surface on which to put your food. A plate is recognizably a plate.

Along that same line of reasoning a bowl is a bowl, and a cup is a cup.

Ceramic artist Kimberlee Roth thinks it's time to shake things up a bit.


Nautilus, 2012

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Photo by Jennifer Phelps

Roth started out studying physics, specifically material science, more specifically ceramics (ceramics play an important role in superconductors and as insulators).

However Roth soon was so charmed by clay's sensual nature, and its artistic potential, that she left physics to study art.

Over the years Roth has used what she learned in physics about curves, heat and pressure to create sculptural pieces that she hopes people will admire both for their sensual form, and their functionality: sculpture for the dinner table.


Masdevallia Veitchiana- Yana, 2010

MPR photo/Marianne Combs

The shapes are inspired by shells, flowers and the female figure.

"I'm very attracted to the female form," says Roth. "I think the female body is beautiful. I think the male body is beautiful, too, but I found it easier to translate feminine imagery to ceramics than masculine."

Other pieces are inspired by Moorish tiles, or by the terracotta embellishments that decorate many older buildings.


Clover, 2012

MPR Photo/Marianne Combs

Roth's most recent show, at Burnet Gallery in downtown Minneapolis, features several different sets of pieces hung meticulously on the wall to create a larger geometric pattern. They are hung on nails, and can be easily taken down and set on a dining room table.

Roth imagines her as the backdrop to a particularly evocative meal.

"I wouldn't serve spaghetti on these dishes," says Roth, "I'm thinking of sushi, or other food that you would eat with chopsticks or your fingers."


Lotus, 2012

Photo by Jennifer Phelps

Roth says while some artists imbue their work with meaning and symbolism, for her it's simply about pleasure.

"I'm not trying to make provocative work. I'm not trying to get that 'Aha!' moment from somebody. I want people to think these pieces are beautiful, and I want them to frame food elegantly. Special plates, for a special meal."

Roth's exhibit "Bouquet" is on display at Burnet Gallery through January 5.