A Constant Struggle for Reciprocity 2022

Mary Martin
clay, wood, metal, glass, tea, fiber, the soul

A series of ceremonial vessels act as metaphors for reciprocity.


A series of ceremonial vessels act as metaphors for reciprocity. Hands reference the cultural exchange and spiritual transmission from mother to son. Each cup holds space to give and to receive. A table is set to exchange ideas and to calm the soul. A double-spouted vessel serves with abundance. Bowls are the Round Dreams that map the maternal journey of the Seeker. Life is a balance between holding on and letting go.

Artist Statement

Vessels are containers of both spiritual and physical realms that weave together distant ancestral connections and the natural world. These functional pieces are intended for informal & formal gatherings that bring humanity together to create an atmosphere for exchange and healing. Artistic practices are directly informed by interactions within various communities seeking common ground. Martin’s work reflects a double-consciousness that encompasses both her West African ancestry and her urban existence in Pittsburgh. Martin’s artwork speaks to her multiple identities, familial bonds, spirituality, and her endless search for peace.

About the Artist

Mary Martin (American, b. 1970) is an African American visual artist and educator from Pittsburgh, PA. After earning bachelor’s degrees in both Architecture and Fine Arts from the Rhode Island School of Design, Martin’s artistic practices expanded to include ceramics, collage, glass, metals, and printmaking mediums. Martin’s art forms consist of both functional and sculptural works that incorporate intricate carvings and linear patterning that adorn the vessel surface.