S/S 2015 : Back to the Land : Soil and Dirt

On a mission to
transform perceptions of San Francisco’s Tenderloin district, an area famed for
its crime, homeless population and vacant buildings, local artist Ilana Crispi has
made a selection of eating and drinking vessels incorporating an oft overlooked
native material. Her substance of choice? Soil that she’d dug up from a
neighbourhood park, littered with abandoned bottles and the remnants of illicit

The project began
when – with permission from the local council – Crispi sourced some soil from Boeddeker Park, a
one-acre city-owned park in San Francisco’s Tenderloin district that is
undergoing a major renovation. Three months of experimentation led her to discover
that at certain temperatures the soil turns into self-glazing clay. With this in
mind Crispi set about creating a ceramic bench and a selection of tableware.

Her work caught the
eye of staff at Ramon’s Tailor, a small art storefront that showcases visual
arts in San Francisco. The subsequent exhibition, Tenderloin Dirt Harvest: Please be seated on the ground., challenges local
taboos. This is especially true with the dishes made from porcelain, a material that was once as
valuable as gold, and glazed with soil – a substance still often associated with the great

At the opening
event in late October, guests were invited to drink and eat directly
from the vessels, bringing to their lips a material that many normally wouldn’t
deem worthy of the soles of their shoes. In this way Crispi’s work builds upon
the ideas explored in our Soil and Dirt micro trend.


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