Tanya Casteel
5/7/10 2:43 PM

Kosher kitchens aside, most of us eat everything off the same plates, be it steak and potatoes or a tuna sandwich. But what if that first dish were served on tableware that spoke of long grass prairies and loamy farmer’s fields. And what if the second appeared on a platter whose glaze recalled limpid pools of tropical water, edged with delicate blue shells and bubbling, seaweed-tinged shallows. Okay, so maybe this is a bit more than your typical tuna sandwich deserves, made from canned stuff, more canned stuff and some bagged white bread. The platter, which is the work of potter Tanya Casteel, more rightly demands to be topped with hand-sliced, house-cured wild salmon of the deepest, richest pink. All of her work, in fact, is so insistent, speaking through a language of form, color and liquidity of the beauty of ocean life. (That first piece of tableware, the one made for steak, was just a rhetorical device. Sorry, meat lovers.) And all of Casteel’s wares are absolutely functional, made for dishwasher, microwave and, most importantly, the serving of food. Alas, in the face of the recent BP oil spill and the general devastation of the world’s fisheries, many of these pieces feel more elegiac than anything else. They ask to be filled with the bounty of the sea, but I worry that they will remain empty, objects for memorial display rather than festive use.

—Lori Waxman
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