The Common Good
November-December 2002

Beating Swords into. . . Fine China?

by Rose Marie Berger | November-December 2002

The ceramic arsenal of Charles Krafft.

It's weird. It's out there. It offends many and agitates most. But Charles Krafft's basic message is this: The way to end war is to gild the guns (or slip-glaze them a Delft blue and white). Seven years ago, Seattle-based ceramicist Charles Krafft enrolled in a beginner's china-painting class offered by the elderly ladies of the Northwest China Painters Guild. Within a year, Krafft produced The Porcelain War Museum, a re-creation of weapons—in porcelain—inspired by his visits to war-besieged Sarajevo and his work with Eastern European artists.

"The Porcelain War Museum project has been evolving into a conceptual statement about the global arms trade," explains Krafft. "My aim has been to produce a delicate arsenal of life-sized ceramic weaponry so gorgeous and patently functionless that they will bedazzle and confound everyone who sees them." Next, he'd like to make full-size Scud missiles and nuclear bombs in pure white porcelain.

Beneath his edgy art, Krafft explores the nature of belief. His work asks how people acquire belief systems—political, ethical, or religious—that define not only their personalities, but often the course of their lives.

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