How does it work?09 009 01 submitted image
Cups are checked out for one week. During this time you may use the cup for whatever liquid or function you like, provided that you document its use with at least one image, emailed to You may also send in other forms of creative response, such as a painting, video, piece of writing or music – or ceramics! No limits. These images and creative works will become part of the Library and will be archived with the cup. The borrower agrees to return the cup on time or earlier, or be charged $2 per day late fee until the cup is returned. If the piece will be late you must call or email the Library, as other borrowers may be waiting for the piece.

What if I break the cup?
If you break the piece and return it in the catalog box, you will be required to pay cost of the cup. (Cups range from $30 to $90, depending on the artist.) If, however, you do not return the cup or the box, you will be charged $400. The goal of this project is to have the pieces remain in circulation for years.

What will you do with the images? The history of each borrower’s use of and response to the cups will be archived along with the individual cups. In addition, the Library will post users’ responses on our website. Borrowers agree to release to Artstream Ceramic Library the rights to use the submitted images and creative works for articles, lectures, publications, website, blog, etc. Artstream Ceramic Library will not sell the images or profit from their use.

How did this idea come about?
This idea was sprouted during a brainstorming session in April 2009, about the Artstream Nomadic Gallery and other potential uses for it. People at the meeting were Christa Assad, Mary Barringer, Andy Brayman, Ayumi Horie, Alleghany Meadows, and Linda Sikora. The ideas ranged from “collectives” to curated shows that were topic-specific and connected to particular locations. For instance, if it were in the financial district of lower Manhattan, an exhibition could focus on pots for “office” type spaces and functions. The lending library idea came out of this meeting.

Who made the boxes?
Andy Brayman and the Matter Factory, of Kansas City, designed and created the boxes and catalog numbers as well as fired decals on each piece with the same catalog number as the box. The boxes serve as the “book jacket” and protect the cups, while also being great objects on their own. They stack seamlessly, and the screen printing allows the boxes to live like puzzle pieces. Andy also procured the Smith Corona typewriter and the made the library cards inside each box.

How were the artists chosen?
The artists for this first round of the Library were chosen by their involvement in the Artstream Nomadic Gallery, the diversity of their work, their role in the field, and their openness to such a project. It is anticipated that over time this project will grow to include other artists and evolving works by the current artists.

Where is the Artstream based?
Based in a vintage 1967 silver Airstream trailer, the Ceramic Library can be found at the Aspen Farmers Market in Aspen, Colorado every Saturday from mid-June to the end of September. The Artstream Ceramic Library is an extension of the Artstream Nomadic Gallery, which was founded in 2002 by Alleghany Meadows.

How can I get this project to come to my local library or museum?
We would love to have the Ceramic Library travel to many host institutions. Please contact us with ideas, and the names of librarians, curators, and supporters who would be open to hosting such a project and helping to find funding for it.