“Before there was America the country, or the individual states and the ensuing territorial identities and resulting politics, there was the land that America occupies,” writes artist Adam Silverman about Common Ground. This ongoing project, initiated in 2019, is a grand and hopeful endeavor, aiming to unite people separated by ideology, geography, and culture through the shared land we inhabit.

Common Ground’s goal is lofty, but its premise is beautifully simple: Adam Silverman sources clay, water, and wood ash from all 50 states, Washington, D.C., and the five occupied U.S. territories, fusing these materials to the point where their origins are indistinguishable. This unique mixture forms the foundation of Silverman’s ceramic vessels, encompassing two distinct series of tableware and ceremonial pots. Silverman explains, “The forms are not subtle, and although they stand on strong feet or foundations, they are battered, scarred, leaning over, showing the processes that got them here. The tops are open, symbolically ready to receive.”

“Common Ground: Adam Silverman + Sogetsu Ikebana Los Angeles” delves into the artist’s creative process and explores the motivations behind this inspiring project, especially as it merges American and Japanese artistic traditions. The publication is replete with informative diagrams elucidating material distinctions, striking images of Silverman in the act of collecting and preparing his substances, and captivating photographs showcasing the final collaborative artworks, where a multitude of Ikebana creations gracefully emerge from the vessels.

With Common Ground, Adam Silverman brings together not only diverse materials but also people and places, uniting them through the beauty of earthly art. Common Ground: Adam Silverman + Sogetsu Ikebana Los Angeles is currently available from Bookshop, and you can explore more of the project on its site.

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