The Democratic Cup has Disbanded as of August 2020
Since its inception, The Democratic Cup has been part of the conversation about social justice, equity, and inclusion. In consideration of these values at the core of this project, we have made the difficult decision to end the collaboration with one of our partners and retire The Democratic Cup.
We are grateful for the creativity, engagement, and passion that so many artists and community members have brought to the project. To honor your commitment and dedication, The Democratic Cup will be archived online, and a complete collection of cups produced since 2016 will reside at Winthrop University in South Carolina.
We hope that our cups will continue to support the important work of utilizing understanding and empathy to bring about social and political change, especially at this critical inflection point in our country’s history.
The Democratic Cup was conceived of as a slow activism project that used handmade cups to encourage people to become active and engaged citizens in our democracy. The intent was to foster person-to-person civil conversations about social and political issues. As a country, we need conversations and connections to reinforce the dignity and inclusivity of all Americans, regardless of race, religion, gender, sexuality, and culture. The Democratic Cup created these cups to act as agents of social change by generating positive political discourse.
The Democratic Cup was designed as a collaborative effort by 50 passionate artists across the country. Icons, heroes, and conversation-starters like Ruth Bader Ginsburg, bell hooks, Sojourner Truth, and Bernie Sanders adorn each cup.
The Classic cup collection of 26 cups were collaboratively made by artists and illustrators based in the US who wanted to counteract the Trump administration’s assault on civil liberties and civil rights. We began selling these cups in September of 2016.
In March of 2017, we launched All Hands On Deck, a series of ceramic decals that could be fired in a kiln onto any cup of your choosing. We wanted more artists involved and more civic discourse happening at all levels. We were interested in civic engagement and how we could use our own work to both find common ground and resist the policies of Trump's administration.
In 2018-2019, we partnered with Northern Clay Center for a project called Land of 10,000 Stories, which consists of four cups. Read more about it below.
Land of 10,000 Stories
Northern Clay Center invited The Democratic Cup to Minnesota to be a part of its In Service: Engaging and Connecting through Clay exhibition in conjunction with the NCECA 2019 ceramic conference in Minneapolis. The exhibition underscored a growing trend in the craft field: creating opportunities for social engagement through the process of making. This Minnesota-based iteration of The Democratic Cup: Land of 10,000 Stories was a collaboration between Northern Clay Center, Ayumi Horie, Nick Moen of the Bright Angle, and In Service curator Ursula Hargens. NCC invited potters, illustrators, and ambassadors from around the state to collaboratively create cups that highlighted issues critical to Minnesotans. We travelled across Minnesota to host community conversations in the towns of New London, Grand Rapids, Winona, and Northfield. Our conversations were led by ambassadors who were ceramic artists themselves: Bill Gossman, Nathan Bray, Lisa Truax, and Juliane Shibata. Conversations were sparked by custom ceramic cups, designed by four Minnesota potters—Linda Christianson, Brett Freund, Peter Jadoonath, and Elizabeth Pechacek. The cups were illustrated with decal prompts that highlighted issues facing Minnesotans, created by four Minnesota illustrators—Jaime Anderson, Kim Bogeman, Ry Macarayan, and Julie Van Grol. Our ambassadors invited people from across the socio-economic, racial, generational, professional, gender, and political spectrum to meet and discuss topics significant in their community. The cups traveled home with participants to serve as a catalyst for future interactions with friends, neighbors, and even strangers.
During the actual exhibition, visitors were provided the opportunity to connect with others in the gallery over coffee and pie, to discuss political and social issues of impact, civility, and the ways pottery can encourage connection.
Minnesota was, in many ways, a perfect location for the project given its strong support of functional pottery and its tradition of gathering with neighbors around a cup of coffee. Building on the assertion—long held in the ceramic community—that handmade objects help us notice and appreciate the world we inhabit, The Democratic Cup: Land of 10,000 Stories invested this sentiment with renewed urgency. It provided a vehicle for people to gather in fellowship, break down barriers, and discuss difficult topics in humane and thoughtful ways. It harnessed the power of a ceramic cup to stimulate social engagement.
Founded in March of 2016, The Democratic Cup project was the brainchild of artists Ayumi Horie of Maine and Nick Moen of North Carolina. Both dismayed by the toxic rhetoric of the 2016 Presidential campaign, Horie and Moen had the idea to try to bridge the gap between what increasingly seemed like polarized sides of the political spectrum. Ayumi gathered together 34 of the best ceramic artists and illustrators in the US to collaborate on cups and Nick headed up the fabrication team at his design production studio, The Bright Angle. Eventually, the number of artists who have worked on the project grew to 50.
Although this project has ended, we hope the cups created are still fostering productive, respectful conversations between users of our cups. We would love images and videos documenting your conversations.
We've put together a guiding toolkit for you to use should you like to facilitate or participate in a conversation about your cup(s). Click here to download the toolkit!
What We Support
We believe in the kind of freedom and democracy that allows all communities to be healthy, and for everyone to have the chance to grow and thrive. We believe in freedom of the press, science, and the dignity of all human beings. We think that women should be given the same opportunities as men, and that women's health and the right to choose are fundamental rights. We believe that it is time for Black Americans and other Americans of color to have the same chances as white Americans to succeed. We believe that racism must be faced deliberately and persistently. We believe that America can be a land of opportunity and we want to see the immigration system reformed to make it possible for all people from all nations to have a fair and expedited chance to become citizens. We want gun reform so that children are safe in schools and women face fewer domestic abuse fatalities. We want LGBTQ families to enjoy the same rights and privileges as heteronormative families. We also want science to drive environmental policy and for our Nation's leaders to begin making and enforcing changes to counteract climate change.
All proceeds have supported website maintenance, shipping to shows, and future projects such as the upcoming Kids Cup, a cup designed with and for kids with the aim of speaking to Allyship and being an Upstander.
ContactEmail us at thedemocraticcup--AT--gmail--DOT--com