Glassell exhibit looks at personal bits of houseware: The cup and its friend the pitcher

Coffee, tea, even hot chocolate doesn’t taste the same unless it’s sipped from that cup.

Your cup.

The cup whose handle perfectly fits your grip. The cup seemingly made with you in mind.

In the LSU School of Art’s Alfred C. Glassell Jr. Exhibition Gallery, right now there are some 200 cups, part of the biennial exhibit “8 Fluid Ounces,” which runs through March 9.

The show features handcrafted cups, each created with the artist’s interpretation of a vessel that holds 8 fluid ounces.

And this is a thought-provoking assignment, simply because it’s as personal to the maker as it is to the user.

“A cup is personal,” says gallery director Kristin “Malia” Krolak. “And I’ve said this before, but I think it tastes better when you’re drinking from your cup. It may be my imagination, but that’s how it seems to me.”

Krolak has curated the gallery’s past cup exhibits, but this year’s has a twist. In previous years, specific artists were invited to interpret the theme, but this year’s show is a juried exhibition, featuring work by 25 artists from throughout the United States.

“We like to mix up how we do things,” Krolak says. “So, this year, the juried artists each have sets of 10 cups and one vessel, such as a teapot or pitcher. And we have some really beautiful pieces.”

Mark Cole is the juror for the sixth edition of this show. He is an assistant professor of ceramics and visual literacy at Longwood University in Farmville, Va.

He also taught at Interlochen Center for the Arts in Interlochen, Mich., and Ohio University in Athens, where he also earned his master of fine arts degree.

“I would like to focus on technique and materials for the exhibition in an effort to create the greatest variety based on the making process,” Cole says in his exhibition criteria description. “I believe this is an important and exciting way to highlight the variety of individualistic ways that artists choose to work with the ceramic medium.”

Cole will attend the reception for “8 Fluid Ounces” on Feb. 20.

The artists in the show crafted through a variety of methods.

“We have them in porcelain and in different glazes,” Krolak says. “And the designs and decorations are amazing.”

Just a quick glance at Chandra DeBuse’s teapot and cup dispels any doubt.

Each piece looks like a bud ready to burst at the first sign of spring.

The teapot alone brightens the room with its hand-painted decorations.

Then there’s the delicacy of Jenni Brandt’s pastel porcelain flowers, which contrast yet complement the browns in the rustic basket-like cups in Matt Kelleher’s collection.

“And do I have a favorite?” Krolak asks, walking to the front of the gallery. “Well, there’s Natalie Tornatore’s cups, each of which are designed to specifically fit in its saucer.”

She lifts one of the cups to show how the bottom fits exactly within the circle of the saucer. This cup would be awkward in any of the other saucers.

“The precision is amazing,” Krolak says.

She continues, pointing out the architectural feel in Marty Fielding’s work, how especially his pouring bottle resembles a skyscraper in its blocks of colors.

“And his shot glasses are a lot of fun,” Krolak says.

Each glass is half the size of his cups, square in shape and keeping within the architectural style.

Across the gallery is Gwen Yappolo’s set.

“They’re so feminine,” Krolak says. “They’re soft, and you can see the sparkle in the glaze.”

She picks up one of the cups by the handle.

“And they’re perfect in the grip,” she says.

She holds the cup for a moment longer, smiling.

“Do I have a favorite?” she asks again. “I could never choose, because they all appeal to me in different ways.”