Dirt-Glazed Dinnerware Calls Attention To San Francisco’s Skid Row [Pics]

Dirt-Glazed Dinnerware Calls Attention To San Francisco’s Skid Row [Pics]
Arts & Culture

Art enthusiasts encouraged to eat and drink from bowls and cups made of needle-infested soil.

Ross Brooks
  • 25 october 2013

Dirty dishware is one thing, but Ilana Crispi is an artist who has taken the meaning to a whole new level by using soil from the needle-infested neighborhood of San Francisco know as the Tenderloin to create a collection of bowls and dirt-glazed cups. The exhibit is called “Tenderloin Dirt Harvest” and offered people a chance to eat and drink from the dinnerware at San Francisco’s Ramon’s Tailor gallery on Thursday. The collection was created to challenge the stigma attached to the area, proving that something beautiful can be created from even the most unappealing beginnings.

Crispi, who has lived and taught in the area, talked about people’s attitude towards the San Fran neighborhood:

Most people I have spoken with demonstrate a visible disgust at the idea of touching the ground here, so through this installation I’m challenging people to experience a beautiful version of this neighborhood.

With permission from the City, Crispi harvested dirt from Boeddeker Park, a one-acre city-owned park in San Francisco’s Tenderloin district that is undergoing a major renovation. She had to wear protective gloves and watch out for used syringes that are littered across the entire park.


Once she had collected 90 gallons of clay and dirt, it took months of testing and countless prototypes before the artist discovered that the dirt melts and becomes a self glazing clay at just the right temperature. This temperature also happens to be extremely high, which is enough to destroy all traces of saliva, urine, vomit, and other potentially harmful substances found in the Tenderloin.

The only question left is how many visitors to the gallery were brave enough to to actually use the dinnerware for their intended purpose?

Ilana Crispi

Images via The Atlantic Cities

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