Pictured: Modified film still from A Father’s Kaddish (Spencer Films, 2020)
On View:May 11–August 18, 2024
Public Reception:Saturday, June 1, 2024, 4:00–6:00 PM 
Movie Screening:Saturday, June 1, 2024, 5:00 PM

A Father’s Kaddish – Exhibition Overview

A Father’s Kaddish tells the story of how Steven Branfman used the craft of pottery to help him work through his grief after the death of his 23-year-old son. In 2005, Jared Branfman died of brain cancer at the age of 23.  A week after his death, his father Steven Branfman, a potter and teacher, went into his studio, took some clay, and made a chawan, a Japanese style tea bowl. Each day for one year, he made one chawan – they were the only pots he made.  Steve’s daily chawan made at his wheel was his own personal kaddish (traditional Jewish prayer of mourning). For 9 years, these 365 bowls sat unfinished on shelves in Branfman’s studio.  Nine years later, he decided to glaze and fire these bowls, bringing them to life with color and sheen. A Father’s Kaddish is the personal story of a man who created an art form to honor his son and his son’s memory.  The short film A Father’s Kaddish (2020), which will be screened during the June 1 opening reception to accompany this exhibition, is a potent and moving journey through the universal experience of loss, mourning, and rebuilding a life.

Eighty-five of Branfman’s mourning bowls, along with the trailer for the film, will be on view in the Igal & Diane Silber Vault Gallery at AMOCA from May 11–August 18, 2024.

A chawan is unique. It is an object tied to history, culture, ritual, and personality. To create a chawan there must be a dedication, an inspiration that grows from within you. Jared’s chawan came from the depths of his soul.

The chawan I made then and those I make now are from my heart.

They are in Jared’s honor and in his memory. I hope you can see them the way I do.

– Steven Branfman

About the artist

Steven Branfman received his MAT from Rhode Island School Of Design in 1975 and enjoys an international reputation as a clay artist. In 1977 he founded The Potters Shop & School in Needham, MA as his studio, pottery school, gallery, and pottery bookstore. He has been teaching pottery at Thayer Academy in Braintree MA for 46 years. His raku ware is in the collections of several museums. He is the author of four pottery and raku books. He is a popular workshop presenter, giving guest demonstrations and lectures of his pottery forming, glazing, and firing techniques all over the world.

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